The Starz telefilm “The Dresser” starring Oscar and Emmy champ Anthony Hopkins and Tony winner Ian McKellen debuts on May 30. Director Richard Eyre adapted Ronald Harwood‘s 1981 Tony-nominated play about the relationship between a fading actor (Hopkins) and his loyal dresser (McKellen) as he struggles to ready himself for a performance of “King Lear” during the darkest days of World War II.
As per the production notes, “Bombs are falling, sirens are wailing, the curtain is up in an hour, but Sir (one of the last of a dying breed of great English actor-managers), is nowhere to be seen. As the company tries to decide what to do, Sir unexpectedly arrives at the theatre, disorientated and exhausted. A battle of wills ensues, as his long-suffering dresser Norman fiercely resists the insistence of the stage manager Madge (Sarah Lancashire) and Sir’s partner Her Ladyship (Emily Watson) that the show be canceled, resolutely contending that Sir will be ready to go on.”
Tom Courtenay, who earned a Tony nomination in 1982 for playing the part of the dresser, reprised the role on-screen the following year opposite Albert Finney. Both reaped Best Actor bids but lost the Oscar to Robert Duvall (“Tender Mercies). At the recent BAFTA TV awards, Courtenay prevailed for his part in “Unforgotten” over McKellen in “The Dresser.”
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