Adrien Brody: Oscar-winning actor set for first London stage role

By Steven McIntosh, Entertainment reporter

grey placeholderGetty Images Adrien Brody attends the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures 3rd Annual Gala Presented by Rolex at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 03, 2023 in Los Angeles, CaliforniaGetty Images

Adrien Brody won an Oscar for 2002’s The Pianist

Actor Adrien Brody is to take on his first stage role in London, in a play which follows the true story of a man who was wrongly convicted of murder.

The US star won an Oscar aged 29 for 2002’s The Pianist, making him the youngest ever best actor winner.

Later this year, Brody will appear at the Donmar Warehouse in the world premiere of The Fear of 13, written by Lindsey Ferrentino.

The play depicts the story of Nick Yarris, a man who spent 22 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

Brody said: “I love the theatre, and although I have not been on the stage in many years, I have been searching for the right material and this was so clearly the one.”

In the early 1980s, Yarris was charged with the kidnapping and attempted murder of a police officer, after a routine traffic stop in Pennsylvania led to a confrontation. Yarris was later tried and acquitted.

However, while awaiting trial, he became a suspect in a different case. After reading a news story about a woman who was raped and murdered, Yarris claimed he knew who was responsible, in an attempt to curry favour with the authorities.

When the man Yarris named as the perpetrator – whom he wrongly thought was dead – was found not to have been involved, Yarris himself became the main suspect.

He was then charged himself with the abduction, rape and murder of Linda Mae Craig. Yarris was found guilty and sentenced to death in 1982, aged 21.

He remained in prison and on death row until 2004, when he was released after DNA evidence was re-examined.

A few years after his release, he wrote a memoir called Seven Days to Live, later reissued as The Fear of 13. The play is based on a 2015 documentary by David Sington.

‘Out of my comfort zone’

Asked what attracted him to the play, Brody said: “The writing just spoke to me. I often follow my instincts when I am utterly moved by the text.

“I am used to a style of working on film that is very different so this is a chance to step out of my comfort zone and explore something incredibly powerful and intimate.

“This is a story steeped in truth, that exposes systematic injustice and apathy through hope and humanity.”

Brody added that he “loves London” and was “excited to work in such an iconic and intimate theatre like the Donmar Warehouse”.

The production, directed by Prima Facie’s Justin Martin, will play at the Donmar for two months from 4 October.

grey placeholderGetty Images Nick Yarris attends the Powerful-U Experience LA 2019 at Los Angeles Convention Center on May 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, CaliforniaGetty Images

Nick Yarris, pictured in 2019, spent 22 years on death row

The play is one of several announced on Tuesday as part of artistic director Tim Sheader’s first season at the Donmar.

Celia Imrie and Tamsin Greig will play a mother and daughter in the world premiere of Backstroke, a new play written and directed by Anna Mackmin.

Greig’s character will be seen trying to balance the pressures of work and parenting, when her own mother is admitted to hospital following a stroke.

Other productions will include Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.

First performed in 2012, the show is a musical adaptation of a segment from Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel War and Peace.

Sheader himself will direct the production, which is set in Moscow high society and centres on the impulsive and romantic Natasha Rostova, who is charmed by an aristocrat while awaiting the return of her fiancé from the front lines.

Orange is the New Black star Samira Wiley will star in Intimate Apparel, written by Lynn Nottage and directed by Lynette Linton.

Set in New York in 1905, the play follows a woman who sews lingerie and dreams of opening her own beauty salon. Longing to fall in love, she is intrigued when she begins to receive beautiful letters from a lonesome stranger.

The four productions announced on Tuesday will play at the Donmar Warehouse over the next year.

Sheader said he was “hugely honoured to be leading this very special theatre into a new era, building on the legacy of my predecessors”.

“With all these new projects, I look forward to welcoming both loyal and new audiences to gather together in our beautiful three-sided auditorium, where connecting with artists and each other is central to every performance.”

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