Zachary Quinto to star in West End production of Best of Enemies

<span>Photograph: Noam Galai/WireImage</span>
Photograph: Noam Galai/WireImage

Zachary Quinto, best known for playing Spock in the Star Trek films, will co-star in the critically acclaimed play Best of Enemies in the production’s West End debut.

Written by James Graham, directed by Jeremy Herrin and inspired by the 2015 documentary of the same name, the play charts a series of televised debates that took place in August 1968 between two long-time opponents, the conservative author and political commentator William F Buckley Jr and the liberal writer Gore Vidal.

Their rivalry is credited as having revolutionised political TV debates and current affairs broadcasting.

The play, which originally opened at the Young Vic in 2021, will make its West End debut in November, with Quinto taking over the role of Vidal from Charles Edwards, while David Harewood will reprise the role of Buckley.

Harewood said he initially had reservations about playing the character, turning down the role twice as he “didn’t agree with the character politically one iota”.

“The play is a real battle of ideas, and with me playing Buckley, who some people may call a white supremacist, it was very difficult for me to get into that space,” said Harewood. “So I turned it down twice as I couldn’t see how I would put myself into that position.”

However, after researching more into Buckley’s life and work, he changed his mind. “The more I learned about him, the more I strangely began to admire his intellect and his wit,” said Harewood. “I had turned it down because I couldn’t imagine myself inhabiting that headspace, and it was an enormous challenge to do that, and to then also find that I enjoyed it. I don’t agree with this character politically one iota, but I’ve started to find pleasure inhabiting him.”

Quinto, for whom performing in the West End is something he has wanted to do for “a very long time”, says he has always been inspired by Vidal’s “unwavering authenticity”.

“He was an incredibly formidable debater and an incredible author, and never shied away from expressing opinions about the political and social landscape,” Quinto said. “And so I felt really magnetised to the idea of playing the character.”

On the difference between the political debates of the 1960s in comparison to nowadays, both stars of the play believe the differences are stark.

“I don’t think we’re really as concerned with that kind of intellectual foundation, there’s not the same kind of nuance,” said Quinto. “We’ve come accustomed to this kind of reductive culture war position.”

For Harewood, the 1968 debates represented “a time when politicians and politics strived to be intelligent, bright, and intellectual”, and that he feels the political discourse of today has “fallen a long way from that unfortunately”.

Harewood said he hoped audiences would take away the importance of listening to political views that may be opposite to their own.

“I think what we hope people get is despite this really polarising topics, it’s really important to listen to the other side, rather than demonising the other side and completely shutting the door. People have different political views, I think it’s vitally important that we find an arena where we can at least talk to each other and share ideas,” he added.

“It’s one of the most intelligent plays that I have ever been in, and I would hope the audience would leave feeling quite stimulated and yearning for a time when politics was a battle of ideas as opposed to these culture war jibes.”

  • Best of Enemies will be at the Noël Coward Theatre from 14 November to 18 February. Tickets go on sale Tuesday 6 September at