Friday, 22 August 2008

An Englishman in New York

The British company ITV has announced that John Hurt will return to a role he made famous in 1975, before he became a big international star. The Naked Civil Servant was a version of Quentin Crisp's scurrilous and highly amusing autobiography, and now an Englishman in New York (yes, he was the subject of the Sting song) is beginning production in New York with Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon.

Nixon will take the role of Penny Arcade, the performance artist and playwright who formed a close bond with Crisp in his latter years. The two created the long-running performance/interview piece, The Last Will and Testament of Quentin Crisp.

Also joining the cast is up and coming American actor Jonathan Tucker (Veronica Must Die, The Black Donnellys,) who stars as Patrick Angus, the young artist who befriended Crisp, Denis O’Hare (Brother’s and Sisters, Charlie Wilson’s War, Michael Clayton) as magazine editor, Phillip Steele and Pushing Daisies’ Swoozie Kurtz, as Crisp’s American agent, Connie Clausen.

I interviewed Crisp (who died in 1999) some years ago for The Evening Standard in one of his rare returns to the UK, and tracked down the famous cafe he used to haunt, Le Chat Noir, now a clothes shop on Old Compton Street in London Soho. He was enchanting company. In New York he was famous for being listed in the phone book, and would go out to lunch with anyone who rang him up, so long as they paid.

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