After 26 Years, Jerry Lewis Gets a Top Role

To star in the independent drama “Max Rose,” his first since “King of Comedy.”

Hey, lady!

Jerry Lewis will star in his first leading role in over 25 years, in the independent drama "Max Rose."

Set to go into production in L.A. this fall, the movie tells the story of a widower who explores his memories to try to explain his marraige and family. It will be directed by Daniel Noah, who also wrote the script, for Lightstream Pictures.

The 86-year-old actor had his last big role in 1983, starring in Martin Scorsese’s "The King of Comedy." He had supporting roles in "Arizona Dream" (1994) and "Funny Bones" (1995).

Though the take on Lewis since his Martin and Lewis heyday has been that he got more respect in France than in his own country, that has not been the case in recent years. In 2005, he received the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors, which is the highest Emmy Award presented. And this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Recently he has battled a number of health issues, including prostate cancer, diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis and two heart attacks. He has continued his annual charity fund-raising telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

He also has said he plans to mount a stage musical adaptation of his 1963 film, "The Nutty Professor" next year.

"We’re going to show an old man who is driven by love and optimism, and by his love for his young daughter," Lewis told Variety about the new role.