February 20, 2018
Jeff Daniels will walk and talk in Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird
by Ryan Harrington
The long, weird, and sometimes controversial life of Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill A Mockingbird marches on.
The newest bend in the road reveals a star-powered Broadway adaption, produced by Scott Rudin, written by Aaron Sorkin, and beginning to take shape. Though the production is already two years in the making, we’re just now learning the casting details.
As Greg Evans reports for Deadline Hollywood, the coveted role of Atticus Finch will go to Jeff Daniels — none other than Harry Dunne himself. Evans writes:
The play has been in the works for at least two years, and the casting of Daniels was planned from the earliest talks, Rudin has said. More surprising, perhaps, will be the casting of adults in the iconic roles of the story’s children.
Playing Scout, for example, will be Celia Keenan-Bolger, who was Tony-nominated for her portrayal of Laura in the 2014 Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie. Will Pullen, known to TV audiences for his role of Todd in The Americans, will play Jem.
As the play’s momentum builds, some crucial adult roles have yet to be announced. Most notably, the producers have so far not cast (or at least have cleverly kept us in the dark about) the actor who will be playing Boo Radley, the neighborhood recluse who shapes the novel’s story from its periphery.
Whoever is selected as Boo will have to grapple with the long shadow Robert Duvall cast when he filled the role in the 1962 film adaptation, just as Jeff Daniels will have a hard time topping Gregory Peck’s iconic portrayal of Atticus Finch. But be at peace: Rudin has promised that the production’s Finch will hew close the lovable litigator we remember from To Kill A Mockingbird — not the harsher-edged Atticus of 2015’s sequel-cum-fan-fiction-cum-rough draft, Go Set A Watchman.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.