Robert Downey Jr. Announces Major Project: 'I'll Knock the Dust Off Quick'

Robert Downey Jr. explores new artistic territories on Broadway.

by Nouman Rasool
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Robert Downey Jr. Announces Major Project: 'I'll Knock the Dust Off Quick'
© Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Fresh off an Oscar-winning turn in "Oppenheimer," the actor, Robert Downey Jr., is now headed to Broadway this fall in "McNeal," a new play written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar and directed by Bartlett Sher, a Tony winner for "To Kill a Mockingbird." In the drama, Downey stars as the smart but troubled writer Jacob McNeal; previews begin Sept.

5, ahead of a Sept. 30 opening. It's on the boards through Nov. 24. The movie "McNeal" is the story of a certain Jacob McNeal, played by Downey, a man who stands on the verge of winning the Nobel Prize for literature year after year.

A man grappling with his own personal demons and the professional pressures that come from writing. The plot outlines: "Good writers borrow, great writers steal. Jacob McNeal is a great writer, one of our greatest. His McNeal, however, also has a long-lost son, a novel in progress, old scores to settle, and an unsettling obsession with Artificial Intelligence.

The really tough part is a combination of Downey's many acting talents: using a complex emotional palette in going over the ethical dilemmas of the modern literary genius.

Stellar Production Team

First-rate world-class talent is not lacking for this show: from set designers Michael Yeargan and Jake Barton to costume designer Jennifer Moeller and lighting designer Donald Holder, this show is set to look great.

Sound design will be by Justin Ellington and Beth Lake, and the projections are by Jake Barton. Finally, Jennier Rae Moore will be the stage manager to keep each detail of the production organized. No other cast member details have been disclosed yet, which should only serve to raise the buzz level that much more, for this red-hot theater event.

This comes after Downey's other recent moves, which included a major role in HBO's "The Sympathizer" and headlining the Paramount remake of the classic film "Vertigo.". Ayad Akhtar, author of the play "McNeal" and a number of others, is well known for his playwriting, which includes "Disgraced," "Junk," "The Who & the What," and "The Invisible Hand." By thematic largeness, the play "McNeal" touches on the complexity of identity, ethics, and human experience—thematic surely also relevant.

As the theatrical community and his legions of fans across the globe wait for the actor, "McNeal" stands at the doorstep of becoming one of the important cultural events of the season, reflecting in its depth the enormous talent of everyone involved.

Robert Downey Jr.
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