How Caitlyn Jenner inspired ‘M. Butterfly’ starring Clive Owen

Clive Owen will spread his wings on Broadway in “M. Butterfly” this fall — and can, in part, thank Caitlyn Jenner.


The Oscar-nominated Owen was “everybody’s first choice” to star in the revival directed by Julie Taymor, producer Ben Feldman told the Daily News.

“He’s such a great actor, so unpretentious,” the producer added. “He loves to act.”

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There’s plenty of room to do that in David Henry Hwang’s 1988 Tony Award-winning drama. It follows a French diplomat’s 20-year affair with a Chinese opera singer who turned out to be a man and a spy. It’s based on real events.

John Lithgow originated the lead role on Broadway in 1988. Jeremy Irons starred in the movie five years later.

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“I was watching Caitlyn Jenner (pictured) on TV,” said Broadway producer Ben Feldman, who added that it was a lightbulb moment.

(Taylor Jewell/Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Broadway revivals, like everything, are all in the timing. So why now for “M. Butterfly”?

“I was watching Caitlyn Jenner on TV,” said Feldman, who added that a lightbulb lit up. “It made me think — are we bifurcated as male or female? Or gay or straight.”

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The play explores such issues, along with divides between Eastern and Western cultures and true love and deception.

Between the topical themes and the interest of Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”), Feldman and his fellow producers decided the time was right to revisit the play.

Hwang, said Feldman, has refined the script to incorporate information from documents released since the first Broadway run.

“The script,” he said, “is even more fluid than the original.”

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“M. Butterfly” opens in October at the Cort Theatre.

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