Actress Faye Dunaway has been fired from a Broadway-bound play in which she was the only cast member after slapping a member of the crew, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Dunaway was playing Katharine Hepburn in Tea at Five, a new production of the one-woman-show written by Matthew Lombardo and directed by John Tillinger. Tillinger also directed the show’s original 2002 production, which starred Kate Mulgrew.
Dunaway reportedly lost her temper moments before the curtain was supposed to rise on a July 10 performance during the show’s Boston tryouts at the Huntington Theatre, first slapping crew members who were attempting to put her wig on, then verbally abusing the cast and crew after the initial altercation led producers to cancel that night’s show.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, this was not the first time Dunaway’s behavior had been a problem for the production: She reportedly threw a salad on the floor during a photoshoot because she was unhappy with it, often showed up late for rehearsals, failed to learn her lines, insisted that no one wear anything white because she found it distracting, forbade anyone from looking at her or moving around the theater while she was rehearsing, and at one point allegedly demanded that theater staffers scrub her dressing room floor on their hands and knees. One source told the Reporter that she left the creative team “troubling, rambling, angry” voicemails in the middle of the night, and there are also allegations that she hurled “mirrors, combs, and boxes of hairpins” at the theater staff. Dunaway is travelling in Europe and has not yet commented on the allegations.
The shopworn idea of the “difficult actress” has been complicated recently by the discovery that Hollywood, as an institution, seems to have been essentially a human trafficking operation for decades. And there’s a kitchen-sink aspect to the list of things Dunaway allegedly did that flattens distinctions between “showed up late to work” and “threw things at coworkers.” But at a certain point, you’ve got to stop throwing things at your coworkers. Dunaway last appeared on Broadway in The Curse of an Aching Heart, a William Alfred play that closed after less than a month in the winter of 1982. As for Tea at Five, producers say the show will now decamp to London instead of Broadway, where it will be recast with a different actress.