James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones

Veteran star James Earl Jones has defended his casting in a traditionally white role for a new West End version of Cat ON A HOT TIN ROOF, insisting he can relate to his character as well as any other actor.

I've always felt that I understood Big Daddy more than the average northern-American Caucasian actor.

The Coming to America star is set to play Big Daddy in the London run of Tennessee Williams' iconic play, which centres on a rich but troubled American family who struggle to cope with the changes taking place in 1950s Southern society.

The piece was originally written for white actors to play the roles, as the U.S. Civil Rights movement had only just begun at the time Williams penned the piece in 1955.

But Jones is adamant the cast, which features black actors in all four leading roles for the first time, can do the play justice.

He tells Britain's Guardian newspaper, "We're not doing anything to this play that a white family, or a Chinese family, wouldn't do.

"I am a redneck, too. I am a Mississippi farm person. I can be foul-mouthed, I can be inarticulate. It's just that my neck doesn't get red.

"I've always felt that I understood Big Daddy more than the average northern-American Caucasian actor."


Tagged in