NEW YORK (AP) — Timothy Olyphant had gotten only a few pages into Kenneth Lonergan’s new play when he told his wife, “I’m going to want to do this.”
His wife’s response? “Finish the play.”
But Olyphant, best known for six seasons of the FX series “Justified” as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, was hooked: “I’m telling you right now, I’m going to want to do this.”
True to his word, Olyphant will be starring in “Hold on to Me Darling,” a comedy making its world premiere this spring at the off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company.
It will mark Olyphant’s return to an off-Broadway stage for the first time in 20 years following roles in “The Santaland Diaries” in 1996 and “The Monogamist” in 1995.
“I personally came back to the theater for the obvious reason — the money,” joked Olyphant. “I think everyone can understand that. Everyone knows I’ve got to make a living.”
The play is about Strings McCrane, a film star and country-western singer who goes through a personal crisis after the death of his mother and moves back to his hometown in Tennessee.
Olyphant will play McCrane and will be taking some guitar classes to sound authentic onstage. The humor will come naturally. “Whenever I try to do something musical, it’s more or less funny,” he said, laughing. “I’m just going to assume the audience is forgiving.”
The rest of the cast will feature Adelaide Clemens, Jonathan Hogan, Jenn Lyon, Keith Nobbs, and C.J. Wilson. Performances begin Feb. 24 under the direction of Neil Pepe, the Atlantic’s artistic director.
Lonergan has written several other plays, most notably “This is Our Youth,” ”Lobby Hero” and “The Waverly Gallery.” He made his film debut with “You Can Count On Me” and had a follow-up with “Margaret.” He also contributed to the screenplays of “Gangs of New York” and “Analyze That.”
Olyphant, who will next be seen in Gary Marshall’s film “Mother’s Day” and Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” said Tuesday it was lovely to be back in New York.
“My wife and kids — I owe them a big thanks for letting me come do this,” he added. “It’s completely selfish, believe me, and I’m going to try to enjoy every second of it.”