Fred Thompson plays Judge Noose in Broadway ‘A Time to Kill’ show

Tennessee’s former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, is making make his Broadway debut in a play based on John Grisham’s novel “A Time to Kill.”

Thompson will play the Judge Omar “Ichabod” Noose, who presides over the Mississippi trial of a black man accused of killing the white men who raped his young daughter.

“He’s kind of like the lion tamer in a three-ring circus,” Thompson told Reuters of his role. “He doesn’t suffer fools or anyone gladly.”

The former U.S. senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate also said he role is close to his heart because he “a small-town Southern lawyer early in his career, long before he turned to acting.” Thompson started his lawyer career Lawrenceburg, Tenn., his hometown, before relocating to Nashville and moving on to fame.

His first acting role was playing himself in the 1985 move “Marie,” based on his real representation of Marie Ragghianti, who was fired as chairman of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles during the cash-for-clemency scandal of former Gov. Ray Blanton’s administration. Subsequent multiple acting roles included playing New York prosecutor Arthur Branch on the “Law and Order” TV series for years.

Thompson told the Tennessean he likes being in front of a live audience.

“Walking into the theater every night, and into the side entrance and seeing the line already forming — sometimes a rather long line already forming by the time I get there — is a thrill,” he said.