Rick Foucheux as Freud (left) and Todd Scofield as Lewis in Freud's Last Session at Theater J. (Stan Barouh)

Actor Rick Foucheux is a grumpy old man — at least when he plays Sigmund Freud in Theater J’s production of “Freud’s Last Session.” Foucheux says grumpiness provides him the best avenue into the play’s character, an 83-year-old man ailing with cancer and questioning long-held beliefs as he marks his last days in World War II-era London.

Foucheux and director Serge Seiden decided to find the character within the script itself — an imaginary meeting between the father of psychoanalysis and scholar/author C.S. Lewis (Todd Scofield). Foucheux, 59, had to get in touch with his inner elder to play someone more than two decades older, developing a stoop and a cautious step. The grumpy and even unlikable man emerged from what happens to most people when they don’t feel well.

Foucheux, a 31-year veteran of the Washington region’s stages, came to the role of Freud after portraying other real people, among them Bernie Madoff and Alexander Graham Bell. He did some research for the Freud role, reading work by and about Freud and watching home movies narrated by Freud’s daughter on YouTube. In a way, Foucheux says, his mission was to out-Freud Freud.

Outside the role, he admits to a fascination for a man he calls the first person to examine ideas about what makes us tick. And though Foucheux says he tends to be a little Freudian in his thinking, with an emphasis on personal histories, he chuckles and adds that he’s just an actor, not a shrink.

Freud’s Last Session By Mark St. Germain, extended through July 6 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW, 800-494-8497, theaterj.org. Performances Wednesday and Thursday evening and Saturday and Sunday matinee and evening; tickets $35-$65.

Greer is a freelance writer.