James Cromwell to Play Rupert Murdoch on Sydney Stage

AP Images

After portraying George Bush Sr. and William Randolph Hearst, the Oscar-nominated actor will play another influential man

James Cromwell will play Rupert Murdoch in an Australian play set to begin performances in Sydney in November.

The 74-year-old actor, an Oscar nominee for his role in Babe, will play the lead in Rupert, the The Sydney Morning Herald reported. David Williamson's bioplay is scheduled to transfer to London's West End in 2015 and to Broadway in 2016, according to the paper.

The production had runs in Melbourne and Washington, D.C., with Williamson saying this summer that he would update it with such recent events as the outcome of the phone-hacking trial.

"I like taking on the dragon," Cromwell told the paper. "And Murdoch is definitely the dragon."

Comparing Murdoch to one of Shakespeare's kings, he told the paper: "I just saw King John, which was really interesting. He doesn't have any soliloquies and never talks about his motives. That's also true of Rupert. Murdoch's reasons are unintelligible to the rest of us."

Asked about Murdoch further, Cromwell said: "He's very personable and canny when I've seen him in interviews. But ultimately the impression he gives is, 'You don't know me. You don't know anything about me. You can sit and judge me and I don't really give a shit because I'm Rupert Murdoch and you're not."

In 2000, Cromwell played another media mogul, William Randolph Hearst, in the TV movie RKO 281, which earned him an Emmy nomination in the best supporting actor category. He also played George Bush Sr. in Oliver Stone's W. His other credits include L.A. Confidential, The Green Mile, American Horror Story and Boardwalk Empire.

Is Cromwell concerned about Murdoch's reaction to his portrayal? "I'm not at the beginning of my career," he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "I don't give a f— what he does to me. If this is going to be my last shot, I think it's a good one."

Rupert begins previews Nov. 25 for a four-week run at Sydney's Theatre Royal, with official opening set for Nov. 29. The cabaret-infused play is produced by Daniel Sparrow and directed by Lee Lewis.

The cast also includes Jane Turner of popular Australian TV comedy Kath & Kim, doubling as Margaret Thatcher and Elizabeth MurdochGuy Edmonds as the young Murdoch; Scott Sheridan as his son LachlanHai Ha Le as Wendi Deng and Rebekah BrooksBert LaBonte as Frank Packer and Ronald Reagan; and John Leary in a series of roles, including Tony Blair, James Murdoch, Kerry Packer, David Frost and Gough Whitlam.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

comments powered by Disqus