John Malkovich says some people won’t like David Mamet’s new play based on the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but he personally thinks its “brilliant”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Malkovich was announcing the world premiere of the play Bitter Wheat, which David Mamet has written in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood.
Malkovich said the play might “upset people who have experienced the treatment that the play describes and that we watch”, but “what can I do about that?”
Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting or raping several women over the course of decades – allegations he denies – and the play focuses on a depraved movie studio head called Barney Fein, who Malkovich will play.
The actor, who returns to the stage after over 30 years, said: “Obviously if you watch the characters’ behaviour in this play I’m sure for some people it will be very painful. In the end, that’s what theatre is for.”
Bitter Wheat has been described as a ‘comedy’ by its writer Mamet, who also directs, and a “farce” by Malkovich, and the actor added that “a lot of great plays illicit the question: do I laugh, or do I cry?. A lot of great comedy exists at the crossroads between pain and farce.”
The two-time Academy Award nominee was also asked about his personal experiences with movie producer Weinstein, whom he said he had met once after working on a film he had financed called Rounders.
“We had one conversation,” he said, “and it didn’t end particularly pleasantly. But what I’ve heard isn’t wildly positive”.