Avengers star Paul Bettany to play Andy Warhol in new Young Vic show

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 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

Paul Bettany will play Andy Warhol in a new play about his relationship with fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat set in 1980s New York.

The Collaboration, at the Young Vic, will focus on the two men’s unlikely friendship at a time when Warhol was at the height of his fame and Basquiat was just emerging from the city’s graffiti scene.

Pop art pioneer Warhol, whose blond wigs and outrageous style made him one of the best known artists of the 20th century, was known for his trademark images of celebrities, including Debbie Harry and Marilyn Monroe, and was at the centre of the New York art scene while Basquiat, who died of an overdose in 1988, first made a name for himself as a street artist.

American artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol in 1980 (Getty Images)
American artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol in 1980 (Getty Images)

Bettany first found fame playing the title role in crime drama Gangster No. 1 before going on to star in films including Master and Commander, Wimbledon and The Avengers where he plays Vision.

Paul Bettany as Vison in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) (Marvel)
Paul Bettany as Vison in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) (Marvel)

The play, by Oscar nominated writer Anthony McCarten, will star US actor Jeremy Pope as Basquiat with both actors in the frame to star in a film version which is expected to start production soon.

It will open in February and be followed in May by a production of Oklahoma! following a critically acclaimed run on Broadway where it has been praised for its immersive darker take on the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, who will also direct The Collaboration, said both shows asked audiences to “lean in closely and challenge our preconceptions”.

Kwame Kwei-Armah (Daniel Hambury)
Kwame Kwei-Armah (Daniel Hambury)

He said: “There is a moment at the beginning of every theatre show when you and your fellow audience take a collective breath before diving into a story that could change you or your perspective irrevocably.

“To my mind, the work and projects announced today channel this energy. As we offer them, I ask that together we take a breath, listen carefully, and be open to reimagining what we thought we knew.”

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