For a double Oscar nominee, directing a play at Kingston’s Rose Theatre may sound unlikely, but John Malkovich doesn’t play by the Hollywood rulebook.

This is a man who struck poses made famous by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Che Guevara for a unique photography project and recently made a film which won’t be screened for 100 years.

Known by most as the star of Dangerous Liaisons, Con Air and Being John Malkovich, the 62-year-old is directing Good Canary in September.

It is first time the acclaimed thespian – whose varied career extends well beyond the screen and onto the stage, having started out with the Steppenwolf theatre company in Chicago – has directed a play in London.

Written by Zach Helm – whose own film writing work includes Stranger than Fiction and the upcoming Jumanji reboot – the play is set in New York and tells the story of an author on the brink of success while his wife struggles with addiction and mental illness.

Malkovich has already directed Good Canary in French and Spanish at runs in Paris and Mexico City but this will be its premiere in English, the language in which it was written.

He also directed Terry Johnson’s Hysteria in English, French and Spanish.

In London for casting, the acting legend told us: “I have had numerous opportunities to do a play more than once, both as an actor and director and I have always enjoyed that experience of revisiting something you thought you were done with and then you come back to it and see other things in it.

“Good Canary is not very slangy and not super colloquial so it is fairly straightforward. When we did it in Mexico City it was probably funnier there because Mexican Spanish is probably funnier.

“There are always little differences but for this play it shouldn’t be too traumatic at all because it will actually be its original language.”

While the play is Malkovich’s London theatre directorial debut, it is a city he has frequently returned to in his career.

In 2011 he appeared as a serial killer in The Infernal Comedy at the Barbican. In 2013 he shot part of Red 2, co-starring Bruce Willis, in London. Next year he will be back at the Barbican for one-man show Call Me God.

He said: “I like London. I have spent a great deal of time here over the year and did two plays in the West End as an actor and of course made movies here.

“It will be nice to be in the city. We’ll rehearse here and then once we get on to tech week and working on the tech space we’ll head out to Kingston.

“Most of the time I’m here I’m working. Mostly I would say I just like to wander the streets when I’m not working – just get out and walk around and just see the lights of the city.”

The veteran performer has enjoyed a long and eclectic career, performing with opera companies and orchestras, but which of his achievements is he most proud of?

“I’m not much for pride, because in theatre even if I say ‘in 1990 on February 9 I did a good performance of XYZ’, that doesn’t help me the next night. There is not so much to feel proud of,” he said.

“It is rare that I would watch a movie that I was in anyway, but if I did – it is not like I would look at it and say ‘that is a perfect performance’ because there would always be a million other ways of doing it and a million people with a million ways that I wouldn’t be capable of doing.

“So proud for me doesn’t really apply, and I don’t know that it needs to. Most things for me are works in progress. Of course movies can’t be, but that’s part of the problem with movies – that you don’t get to go back and rework things.

“Theatre is much longer, it is laboured over – maybe for better or worse. It is more like a painting than a line drawing.”

Despite his humble outlook, for a man who never expected his career in acting to last, he’s made a huge impact.

He added: “Even when we started Steppenwolf I always had the feeling, at least for a number of years, that I would one day grow up and get a job. But I never did.”

John Malkovich directs Good Canary at the Rose Theatre, Kingston, from September 16 to October 8. Tickets cost from £8. Go to