Emma Thompson will star in the Kathleen Chalfant role of a dying English literature professor in Wit, the HBO television version of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, set to air on March 24 at 9 PM. Mike Nichols directs.
The cast also features Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Atkins, Audra McDonald, Jonathan M. Woodward and Harold Pinter. While Thompson has long been absent from the stage, Atkins and McDonald are frequent presences in the theatre (Atkins on both sides of the Atlantic). Sometime actor Pinter is best known as the playwright of such works as The Birthday Party and Old Times. And Woodward is an up-and-coming young actor who has performed at such Off-Broadway theatres as Soho Rep, where he acted in last year's The Year of the Baby.
Thompson has starred in numerous films, many of them period dramas. Among her credits are "Howard's End," "Sense and Sensibility," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Henry V" and "The Remains of the Day." Nichols directed her in "Primary Colors."
Since its bow at Off-Broadway's MCC Theatre last season, Wit has become one of the most acclaimed and produced plays in recent memory. Chalfant originally starred as Dr. Vivian Bearing, an expert on John Donne's poetry whose confidence is shaken when she discovers she has terminal cancer. The screenplay for the TV film is by Thompson and Nichols. —By Robert Simonson