Cavanagh and Hirsch, who will play these roles at the roughly 500-seat Broad Stage in Los Angeles (Copland is again the lead producer, along with the Broad Stage), are new to the piece, which Copeland says will have an initial four-week run, with a good possibility for an extension. They are working with the original director, Tyler Marchant, but neither actor has seen the prior casts.
Hirsch, 77, famous for his work on such TV shows as "Taxi," "Dear John" and "Numb3rs," is perhaps less well known for the Tony Awards he won for "I'm Not Rappaport" and "Conversations With My Father." He also was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1980 movie "Ordinary People."
He has, he says, "been aching to get back to the stage in a role of the right age."
The Canadian-born Cavanagh, who is 49 and who also has done a good deal of stage work, is best known for playing the title role in the NBC series "Ed," which followed a shaken-up New York lawyer who goes back to his small hometown in Ohio and which aired from 2000 to 2004.
Both men say they are determined to make the play more than an intellectual debate between the men. Hirsch says his Freud can crack up an audience.
"No matter how dangerous, sad or dramatic something seems to be, I always try and find the humor," he said. "I played Willy Loman one time, and I said he's funny."
"It's really amazing to see this play re-created every time by different actors," Copeland said.
"Judd just inherently brings the comedy and really embodies Freud. And Tom already knew a lot about Lewis; he has a strong Catholic background, and he'd read much of his work, and he really understands it," she said.
With Hirsch now attached, there would seem to be an argument for moving the play to Broadway — a move that Copeland said was on her mind, depending on how things go in Santa Monica.
Cavanagh says he has been trying to focus on Lewis the man, as distinct from Lewis the quote-machine. "The ideas will get out there," he said. "They're in the lines. The question, really, is this: 'Are you putting up these ideas or are these characters having an actual meeting?' Judd and I are defiantly making an attempt at the latter."
Jones is the theater critic of the Chicago Tribune.