Looking Back at John Malkovich in Off-Broadway’s True West

Archival Photos   Looking Back at John Malkovich in Off-Broadway’s True West
Malkovich, who celebrates his birthday December 9, co-starred with Gary Sinise in the 1982 Steppenwolf production at Cherry Lane Theatre.
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John Malkovich and Gary Sinise Martha Swope

December 9 marks the birthday of actor John Malkovich. Known for his performances in films such as The Killing Fields, Empire of the Sun, Of Mice and Men, and Being John Malkovich, the actor got his start after becoming a charter member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company. A relatively unknown actor at the time, Malkovich was then cast in the Steppenwolf production of Sam Shepard's True West alongside fellow newcomer Gary Sinise.

The play, which had made its New York debut at the Public Theater in 1980, was blessed by Shepard and moved to an Off-Broadway mounting at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where it ran for 762 performances in 1982.

The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983.

Shepard's True West follows screenwriter Austin and lowlife Lee as they wrestle with big issues—and each other—while holed up in their mother's California home, leading to the airing of old resentments and some unexpected twists in their relationship.

Flip through photos from the production below:

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