Being Harold Pinter: Hollywood star John Malkovich's Fringe tribute

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AMERICAN movie legend John Malkovich will be adding Hollywood glamour to this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe when he brings a show to the arts extravaganza for the first time.

Malkovich - star of In The Line Of Fire, Dangerous Liaisons and The Killing Fields - will be joining forces with leading British actor Julian Sands for a play celebrating the life and work of writer Harold Pinter.

The Illinois-born actor and producer, whose mother claims Scottish ancestry, will be in Edinburgh to promote and direct the one-man show in August. He is a huge fan of Pinter's work, having previously directed and acted in many of his plays, including The Caretaker.

Malkovich, who got his break in acting with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, went on to make his name with stage roles in True West and Death Of A Salesman, in which he starred with Dustin Hoffman.

He is the first major Hollywood star to be involved with the Fringe since Christian Slater starred in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest at the Assembly Rooms in 2004. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon appeared at the Royal Lyceum in The Guys two years earlier.

Yorkshire-born Sands - best known for his roles in 24, Smallville and horror film Warlock - has been performing Pinter's work in occasional solo shows since being asked by the writer to stand in for him at a benefit for a women's shelter in London in 2007, when illness had impaired the playwright's voice.

Malkovich, 57, will take the play, which will draw mainly from Pinter's poems and political prose, on tour across the UK after its month-long run at the Pleasance.

The show, A Celebration Of Harold Pinter, is also partly-inspired by the time Pinter and Sands spent together rehearsing his work.

Sands, who has won a key role in the remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, due out later this year, also starred in one of Pinter's plays, The Road, with Scottish pop and rock icon Annie Lennox.His major film roles have also included A Room With A View, Boxing Helena, Leaving Las Vegas and, alongside Malkovich, The Killing Fields.

A spokeswoman for the show said: "With reflections, commentaries and anecdotes drawn from their time together, Sands reveals how Pinter's poems form a potent and significant element of his literary legacy."

Sands said: "In these spare but complex works there is an extraordinary revelation of subjective feeling - at once poignant, profound and often hilarious."

Pinter died in December 2008 after a career which saw him become one of Britain's most celebrated playwrights, screenwriters, actors, theatre directors and poets.

Among his best-known plays are The Homecoming, The Birthday Party and Betrayal, while he directed almost 50 stage, television and film productions.

This year's Fringe festival - the official launch is on Thursday - is expected to bring a major shake-up for Fringe-goers thanks to the temporary closure of the Assembly Rooms on George Street for refurbishment.

The venue will be continuing to stage shows at the Church of Scotland's Assembly Hall on The Mound, but will be creating a number of new venues in and around George Square, at Edinburgh University's main campus.

Plays about The Black And White Minstrel Show, the Omagh bombing, assisted suicide and Frank Sinatra's love life will be staged as part of this year's Fringe.

Black Slap is expected to see the cast "black up" to portray performers in The Black And White Minstrel Show as they prepare backstage to perform on election night in 1964.

Minute After Midday will recall the immediate aftermath of the Omagh bombing from the viewpoint of three characters caught up in the tragedy, while Frankly: I Was A Fool For Love will tell of Sinatra's tortured relationship with Ava Gardner.

Lucie Jones, the X Factor finalist turned Wonderbra model will be appearing in a new musical, The Prodigals, with former EastEnders star Aaron Sidwell, while Out of the Blue, one of the stars of this year's Britain's Got Talent, have also lined up a Fringe show.

Award-winning comic Phil Nichol performs a powerful monologue in one-man show Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still. It will be directed by Hannah Eidinow, who had a huge hit last year with Lockerbie: Unfinished Business. Eidinow will also be directing An Instinct For Kindness, which will see Chris Larner recount the true story of accompanying his terminally-ill ex-wife Allyson to the controversial Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.

Fringe veteran Steven Berkoff will be returning with a new version of Sophocles' tragic play Oedipus.Art Malik, who shot to fame with starring roles in The Jewel In The Crown, A Passage To India and The Living Daylights, will be appearing at the Fringe with his daughter Keira.

The pair are starring at the Pleasance in the world premiere of Rose, a powerful drama about a Middle-Eastern immigrant's struggle to bring up his English-born daughter.

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