Damian Lewis returns to West End stage with David Mamet’s American Buffalo

Damian Lewis is to appear alongside US star John Goodman

Damian Lewis is returning to the West End in a revival of David Mamet’s acclaimed American Buffalo.

The Homeland star will appear opposite Hollywood actor John Goodman, making his London stage debut, while Welshman Daniel Evans will direct.

Nathan Bevan looks how other big stars have adapted to Mamet’s brash, macho world…

Anthony Hopkins in The Edge

Tony and Alec go wild in The Edge

Hopkins plays a millionaire businessman who ends up stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after the plane carrying him and Alec Baldwin as a smarmy photographer crashes.

And, if it wasn’t bad enough that a particularly nasty Kodiak bear seems intent on having them both for lunch, the Welshman’s got to keep one eye on the increasingly panicky and trigger-happy Baldwin, who just so happens to be having an affair with his wife and would love nothing more than to see old Tony out of the picture permanently.

Luckily, not only is Hopkins very rich, he’s also an almanac of fantastically useful information should you ever have to survive in a remote, barren landscape – busying himself by fashioning makeshift compasses with fallen leaves and paper clips, while all Baldwin can do is grow a beard and brood.

Jonathan Pryce in Glengarry Glen Ross

The Pryce is right as far as Pacino’s concerned

This big screen adaptation of the play which established Mamet as the Shakespeare of inventive swearing, it’s a blistering dissection of the cutthroat world of real estate agents which uses profanities like punctuation.

In fact, the only one not turning the air blue is Flintshire’s Jonathan Pryce, who plays a sadsack everyman who’s duped into signing on the dotted line to buy a piece of property he doesn’t really want and can’t even afford by Al Pacino’s hotshot salesman.

However, it’s Kevin Spacey’s odious office manager unwittingly sabotaging the deal (and, as a result, Pacino’s hefty commission) which results in a barrage of invective from the Godfather star which, if bleeped, would sound like someone typing a Morse code mayday from the cockpit of a plummeting plane.

Eddie Izzard in The Cryptogram

Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard
Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard

After becoming a household name as an “action transvestite” and an irreverent and surreal comedy genius, the one-time Skewen-based stand-up made his first foray into the world of serious acting in 1994, courtesy of Mamet.

The funny man, who grew up in Neath Port Talbot, took to the West End stage opposite Lindsay Duncan in The Cryptogram, in which he played a gay man circling the periphery of two friends’ collapsing marriage.

Dustin Hoffman in American Buffalo

Don’t hassle the Hoff, man

The scuzzy tale of a pair of junk-shop workers plotting to steal a valuable coin collection, Mamet‘s ‘75 allegory of US capitalism was a gold-plated three-hander.

But it’s the role of Teach, the motormouthed, two-bit thief that everyone really wants.

And Damian Lewis is going to have to go some to beat the way a ponytailed Dustin Hoffman’ spat out the searing, staccato script in the otherwise underwhelming ‘96 film version.

“We gotta get the combination to the safe,” says Hoffman, planning his break-in.

“What if he didn’t write it down?” comes the not-unreasonable reply.

“He has to write it down, what if he forgets it?” Hoffman retorts.

“And even if he doesn’t forget it, you know why he doesn’t forget it?

“Because he wrote it down.”

Gene Hackman in Heist

Hackman gets an earful from DeVito in Heist

Gene Hackman puts in a career-capping performance (he’d retire from acting altogether a few years later) as a wily bank robber who decides to jack in his life of crime after a botched break-in results in him being identified on CCTV.

However, Danny DeVito’s pint-sized crime boss doesn’t react very well to this news and strong-arms Hackman into doing “one last job”.

Cue lots of hard-boiled dialogue – no more so than when DeVito, finally staring at his comeuppance in the form of a shotgun barrel, asks, “Don’t you want to hear my last words?”

“I just did,” replies Hackman, before coldly pulling the trigger.

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Mark Meets
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MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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