At its worst, inhaled mercury can cause brain damage or death. Swallowing mercury can cause permanent kidney damage or death. However, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most exposure to mercury builds up over periods of years. In that case, mercury poisoning can cause numbness, tremors, blindness and memory problems.
Mercury poisoning treatment can last for months and usually consists of extended use of "chealator" drugs, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz and Academy Award nominee William H. Macy will take on Piven's part, that of a Hollywood studio exec almost as manic as superagent Ari Gold, the character Piven plays on HBO's "Entourage." Butz starts in the play Dec. 23; Macy picks up the role Jan. 13.
In September, Piven picked up his third consecutive Emmy for his work on "Entourage" and, in his acceptance speech, alluded to the fact that small-screen acting talent doesn't necessarily translate to the stage, perhaps foreshadowing his abrupt departure from "Speed-the-Plow."
"I just got off a plane from New York in which I'm doing a play," Piven said. "And what's so interesting is that I'm in the midst of this rehearsal and I'm feeling like maybe I should go into roofing, I'm so bad. That's what it feels like right now."
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Additional reporting contributed by Lauren Cox.