Faye Dunaway fired from Broadway-bound play Tea at Five

Oscar winner has been removed from a production of a one-woman show where she played Katharine Hepburn

Faye Dunaway has been fired from a Broadway-bound production of the one-woman play Tea at Five.

The 78-year-old Oscar-winning star of Network was playing Katharine Hepburn in the show, which had recently concluded a three-week run in Boston before it was due to transfer to New York.

On Wednesday, the producers Ben Feldman and Scott Beck announced in a statement that they would no longer be working with Dunaway.

“The producers of Tea at Five announced today that they have terminated their relationship with Faye Dunaway,” the statement read. “Plans are in development for the play to have its West End debut early next year with a new actress to play the role of Katharine Hepburn.”

The exact reasoning behind Dunaway’s removal has not been confirmed but sources told the New York Post that the actor had been difficult to work with, fostering a “hostile” work environment and there had been allegations of an altercation with a crew member.

Rumours of problematic behaviour have dogged Dunaway for much of her career. Roman Polanski referred to her as “a gigantic pain in the ass” on the set of Chinatown, while Bette Davis said she was the worst person she had ever worked with, calling her “totally impossible”. Yet the actor also had her defenders. The director Sidney Lumet called her “selfless” and “devoted”, while Johnny Depp claimed her uncompromising nature was “a good thing”.

“The fact is a man can be difficult and people applaud him for trying to do a superior job,” Dunaway wrote in her autobiography, Looking for Gatsby. “People say, ‘Well gosh, he’s got a lot of guts. He’s a real man.’ And a woman can try to get it right and she’s ‘a pain in the ass’. It’s my nature to do really good jobs, and I would never have been successful if I hadn’t.”

The production would have marked the actor’s first time on Broadway in 37 years. The Boston run of the show had been receiving solid reviews with the Boston Globe heralding her “bravura” performance but noting that “she was slightly rusty on her lines”.

The actor had been set to replace Glenn Close in 1994’s Los Angeles production of Sunset Boulevard but Andrew Lloyd Webber instead decided to shut down the show, blaming her poor singing. Dunaway filed a $6m lawsuit, which was eventually settled out of court, with the actor calling it a “very painful public rift”.

Dunaway’s recent screen roles have included the religious drama The Case for Christ and the thriller Inconceivable with Nicolas Cage. She is in the forthcoming thriller Visceral.

Representatives for Dunaway and the production have yet to comment.


Benjamin Lee

The GuardianTramp

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