John Malkovich has admitted that his latest starring role, in a new play inspired by former Hollywood mogul and alleged rapist Harvey Weinstein, “might upset people,” but also defended the play, saying it is a "terrific piece of writing."
Bitter Wheat was written by Glengarry Glen Ross and The Untouchables writer David Mamet and is scheduled to premiere in London's West End this summer.
Its lead character, Barney Fein, is "a bloated monster — a studio head who devours the young he has lured into his cave," according to promotional material, which does have a rather familiar ring to it.
Malkovich, the star of films such as The Killing Fields and Being John Malkovich, has been keen to underplay the Weinstein link, however, stressing that while Mamet's play is inspired by Weinstein, the central character is not a direct representation of him.
"It's not particularly Harvey Weinstein,” the actor told the BBC. “It's a great deal about that business and a great deal about how people in that business in positions, say, as studio heads have behaved really for more or less a century now. If the idea maybe started as a reaction to all the news that came out, in particular about Harvey Weinstein, I think David took the idea from there and went with it."
The actor added that he had personally never had any close ties with the disgraced producer, who stands accused of sexually assaulting over 80 people: "I didn't really have any connection with him," Malkovich said. "It was never a topic of conversation any time the name 'Harvey Weinstein' came around with me."