James Woods is the latest movie star to check into hit medical drama ER.

The Oscar-nominated actor will play a doctor suffering from debilitating neuromuscular disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

As his illness worsens, Woods' character, DR NATE LENNOX, is forced to use an electronic device to help him speak.

ER producer DAVID ZABEL says, "He'll be like Stephen Hawking (wheelchair-bound writer of A Brief History of Time) - he will need to speak through a speech-monitoring device."

Zabel insists Woods was the only name he considered for the harrowing role: "We needed somebody with intensity and who had a huge range as an actor."