Malkovich and Pinter: an unlikely alliance

Actor to direct celebration of playwright's life despite contrasting world views

A celebration of the life of the late Sir Harold Pinter – doyen of the metropolitan left-leaning chattering class and a vitriolic critic of Israel and serial opponent of American imperialism – is to be directed at this year's Edinburgh Fringe by his political nemesis, John Malkovich.

While the British Nobel Laureate was campaigning against President Bush's policies in the Middle East the outspoken US actor became a Neo-Con pin-up. A committed supporter of the death penalty Malkovich made headlines in Britain when he offered – jokingly, he later insisted – to "shoot" The Independent's Robert Fisk and MP George Galloway over their opposition to the Iraq war.

But despite the ideological gulf between them, Malkovich is set to direct British actor Julian Sands in a month-long homage to the late playwright's life and work at this summer's festival before taking the play on a short tour of the UK.

A Celebration of Harold Pinter will be based on a selection of Pinter's writings and poems but also on Sands' experiences and anecdotes from working alongside him when he stood in for the ailing laureate at a reading shortly before his death in 2008.

Sands said Malkovich and Pinter knew and liked each other well in the 1990s despite their obvious differences. "John is far more nuanced and circumspect in his views than is popularly thought. A person is not defined by their political views but there is a richness and a depth to John's thinking that makes the idea of conversation between him and Harold very compelling," he said.

"Their meetings would have been mutually admiring and candid. John was very, very fascinated by Harold's plays, and finds his use of language second to none. I think John has a reasonable view of anybody who holds a view which they are passionate about even if it runs contrary to his own.

"To my knowledge they never discussed Israel and I can only conjecture if they had what that conversation would have been," Sands, who appeared alongside Malkovich in The Killing Fields, said.

Malkovich performed and directed a number of Pinter plays including The Caretaker when he was part of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.

In 2008, Malkovich accepted an achievement award in Israel. Prior to this he was famously described by one co-star as "so right wing you have to wonder if he's kidding".

Pinter meanwhile remained avowedly on the left. Shortly before his death he signed a letter along with other prominent Jews refusing to mark Israel's 60th birthday. "We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land," it said. He also called George W Bush "a mass murderer" and his administration "a bunch of criminal lunatics".

Malkovich and Sands promise to be the biggest Hollywood draw of the festival since Christian Slater's 2004 appearance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This year's Fringe boasts record numbers of performances.

The line-up comprises 2,542 shows staged by about 21,000 performers at what has become the world's largest arts festival. Also featuring will be street dance group Flawless, from Britain's Got Talent in 2009.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before