The Knick star will play Rene Gallimard in David Henry Hwang’s story of a French diplomat’s 20 year affair with a star of the Chinese Opera who turns out to be both a male and a spy, loosely based on a true tale. Owen last trod the boards in New York's theatreland in a 2015 revival of Harold Pinter’s Old Times.

“I could not be more excited to take on such a complex and fascinating role for my return to Broadway. M. Butterfly offers a novel challenge with its inherent mystery and astonishing storyline," Owen said in a statement, reports Deadline. "I’m looking forward to diving into the mind of Rene Gallimard and I can think of no one better than the brilliant Julie Taymor to bring this wonderful, daring, original play to life.”

Taymor of The Lion King and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark fame is taking on directing duties for the play and the show's producers confirmed on Monday (30Jan17) the production will open on 26 October (17) but a theatre has not yet been named.

The Crown actor John Lithgow originated the role in the critically acclaimed play which in addition to winning best play, also won Tony Awards for supporting actor B.D. Wong, who played the opera star, and director John Dexter.