Starz today announced Richard Eyre’s adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s critically acclaimed play The Dresser, starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins, will premiere on STARZ on Monday, May 30 at 9 PM ET/PT. The Dresser will also be made available simultaneously on May 30 for STARZ subscribers on STARZ PLAY and STARZ ON DEMAND, in the U.S. Starz also released a first look at the trailer for the movie for television which is an adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s play, adapted and directed by Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal, Iris).
The Dresser brings Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins together on screen for the first time in their acclaimed careers. It also marks Hopkins’ first appearance in a television drama in more than 20 years. The Dresser tells the story of one fateful night, backstage in a small regional theatre during World War II as a troupe of touring actors stages a production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Bombs are falling, sirens are wailing, the curtain is up in an hour but the actor/manager “Sir” (Hopkins) who is playing Lear is nowhere to be seen. His dresser “Norman” (McKellen) must scramble to make sure the show goes on but will Sir turn up in time and if he does will he be able to perform that night?
The Dresser is a wickedly funny and deeply moving story of friendship and loyalty as Sir reflects on his lifelong accomplishments and seeks to reconcile his turbulent friendships with those in his employ before the final curtain. It was first adapted for the screen by Harwood himself 32 years ago, in the 1983 Peter Yates film starring Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay. The current production reverts to Ronald Harwood’s original text as it was written for the stage.
Both men were acclaimed for their own stage roles as Shakespeare’s great tormented king: Ian McKellen in Trevor Nunn’s production for the RSC in 2007 and Hopkins at The National Theatre under the direction of David Hare in 1986. The Dresser is directed by Richard Eyre who directed an award-winning production of “King Lear” with Ian Holm for the National Theatre in 1997.
Rounding out the stellar cast for The Dresser is Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie, Breaking Waves) as “Her Ladyship;” Sarah Lancashire (“Happy Valley,” “Last Tango in Halifax”) as stage manager “Madge;” Vanessa Kirby as “Irene;” Edward Fox as “Thornton;” Tom Brooke as “Oxenby/Edmond;” John Ashton as “Gloucester;” Ian Conningham as “Kent;” Annalisa Rossi as “Goneril;” Helen Bradbury as “Regan;” Carl Sanderson as “Cornwall;” Matthew Cottle as “Albany;” and Martin Chamberlain as “Gentleman.”