After parting company with original star Colin Firth, The Weinstein Co.’s fast-approaching Paddington Bear pic has found a new voice for its furry London-dwelling protagonist. Ben Whishaw has stepped in as the voice of Paddington, starring alongside Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Sally Hawkins in the live action/CG big-screen adventure adapted from UK author Michael Bond’s beloved children’s books. King’s Speech Oscar-winner Firth was set to play the CG bear for producer David Heyman and helmer Paul King before his voice was deemed not quite right for the character. His departure was announced last month. The Weinstein Co. releases the pic Christmas Day stateside, but overseas there’s more of a time crunch: Paddington opens in the UK, home base to the Peruvian-born Paddington Bear himself, on November 28.
Sky Arts HD is getting ready for its annual Playhouse Presents series which returns to the channel this May. The showcase is devoted to one-off comedies and dramas with talent lined up this year to include Matthew Perry, Billie Piper, Ben Wishaw, Mark Strong, Jo Brand, Simon Callow, Cara Delevingne, Lindsay Duncan, Kevin Eldon, Jane Horrocks, Daniel Mays, Sylvia Syms, Ashley Walters, Jason Watkins and Richard Wilson. Previous editions have had such names as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson, Idris Elba and David Tennant. This year also involves the writing talents of Oscar-winner Peter Straughan, among others. Perry, who’s prepping his Odd Couple pilot at CBS, will make his UK TV comedy debut with The Dog Thrower, the story of a man who finds fame, then infamy, when he starts throwing his dog. It’s produced by Runaway Fridge. Among the other offerings, Piper and Whishaw will star in Foxtrot from Sprout Pictures, about a gang heist gone wrong; Syms and Delevingne play unlikely friends in Timeless, a story of love, loss and hope, written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) and produced by Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow; and Strong will star as a tormented movie actor in the Straughan-penned Nosferatu In Love from Bonafide Films.
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off directing the musical Sunshine On Leith, British actor-turned-helmer Dexter Fletcher has closed a deal to helm the movie on rock supergroup Queen, with frontman Freddie Mercury to be played Ben Whishaw. GK Films’ Graham King is producing, and Sony Pictures has first crack at the film. This has been a passion project for King for several years, and it started with Sacha Baron Cohen attached to play Mercury, the singular-voiced frontman. Fletcher, who’s repped by WME and Independent, made his directorial debut with the BAFTA-nominated Wild Bill before directing Sunshine On Leith, a musical based on the Proclaimers songbook. Before that, Fletcher became a familiar face acting in films that include Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. Whishaw has been rumored to be getting the Mercury role for some time.
I’m told that Fletcher has been meeting the band and getting a feel for the Queen story, and that the intention is for the movie to get up and running next year regardless of whether Sony steps up. With the band’s songs part of the package, the pic will tell the formative coming-of-age story of the group, culminating in Queen headlining Live Aid in 1985. Queen’s performance is considered one of rock’s all-time great concert …
The Lobster is the first English-language film for Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos whose Dogtooth scored an Oscar nomination in 2009. Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke leads the cast that also includes Skyfall‘s Ben Whishaw, Blue Is The Warmest Color‘s Léa Seydoux, Broadchurch‘s Olivia Colman, Attenberg‘s Ariane Labed and Angeliki Papoulia (Dogtooth, Alps). Shooting starts in March on the unconventional love story that’s set in a dystopian future where finding a partner is a matter of life and death. Lanthimos co-wrote the script with longtime collaborator Efthimis Filippou. Protagonist Pictures is launching sales at next month’s AFM. Ireland’s Element Pictures is producing with Lanthimos’ Limp and Ceci Dempsey’s Scarlet Films. Producers are Lanthimos, Lee Magiday, Ed Guiney and Dempsey, with Andrew Lowe exec producing. Haut et Court (The Returned), is co-producing and distributing in France. Faliro House and Lemming Films also are co-producing. Clarke most recently appeared in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and next has Child 44, Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups and Fox’s Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. He’s repped by CAA, as are Seydoux and Whishaw, who’s also with Hamilton Hodell in the UK. Colman is repped by the UK’s United Agents. The Lobster won the ARTE International Prize for best project at CineMart in Rotterdam earlier this year.
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli confirmed today that James Bond’s MI6 gadget pal Q is returning to the franchise in the 23rd Bond installment Skyfall and will be played by Ben Whishaw. For proof, they unveiled a production still from the movie, which Sony is releasing November 9. He is the fourth actor to play Bond’s famous quartermaster, the latest being John Cleese in 2002′s Die Another Day. Whishaw recently wrapped Warner Bros’ Cloud Atlas opposite Tom Hanks on the film side in addition to his TV and stage work. He won a BAFTA for the BBC drama Criminal Justice in 2009.
As filming got underway Monday for Skyfall, the names of two additional actors but not their characters’ identities were posted on the movie’s Twitter account @007: Helen McCrory (Hugo, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2) and Ola Rapace, former husband of Noomi Rapace, apparently in his first English-language role. Last week’s reveal of the official title of Bond 23 was the most recent big news for the project, along with director Sam Mendes promising there would be plenty of action as well as “emotional context.” In addition to McCrory, Rapace and of course Daniel Craig, the rest of Skyfall‘s previously reported cast includes Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney.
‘Skyfall’ Confirmed As Title Of New Bond Movie; Budget Around $230M; Sam Mendes Says He’s Open To Follow-up
Shooting on the latest James Bond movie starts Monday, Daniel Craig revealed at this morning’s press conference for Skyfall, the 23rd 007 movie. Producer Michael G Wilson scotched UK tabloid rumors that the budget for the latest Bond film has been slashed by $100 million. “We’re in the same budget range as the last film. We haven’t had to change anything in the script. In fact, we keep adding things — everything is going to be just as it was,” he said. Director Sam Mendes also denied he was making a downbeat Bond with fewer action sequences. He would be directing action sequences himself. “There will be plenty of surprises,” Mendes promised. “The action needs to be balanced with the drama.” Mendes said he was open to directing another Bond installment, “if I still feel that it’s as much fun in six months’ time, then the answer is yes.”
BBC America has come on board to co-produce the new six-part drama series The Hour, announced in November by BBC Two. The series, which will premiere in the summer on BBC America, was created and written by BAFTA-winning Abi Morgan (White Girl). It is a spy thriller set behind the scenes of the BBC’s newsroom in London in the mid 1950s and stars Dominic West (The Wire), Romola Garai (Emma) and Ben Whishaw (Bright Star) locked in a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle. Produced by Kudos and BBC America for the BBC, it is distributed by Shine International, which will take the series to MIPTV next month.
Mercedes Masohn has landed the female lead opposite Ben Whishaw in Alan Ball’s pilot for HBO All Signs of Death. Rounding out the cast are Ron Yuan, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali and Kelsey Ford, who have joined previously locked Whishaw and Clayne Crawford. The dark comedic drama, based on Charlie Huston’s 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, centers on Webster Filmore Goodhue (Whishaw) an inveterate twenty-something slacker who stumbles into a career as a crime scene cleaner, only to find himself entangled with a murder mystery, a femme fatale and the loose ends of his own past. Masohn, repped by Greene & Assoc. & Luber/Roklin, will play Soledad Nye, a beautiful young Latina femme fatale who drags Web into a triple bucket of trouble. Ball is executive producing and directing the pilot, which was written by Huston. Filming is slated to start filming in Los Angeles later this month.
EXCLUSIVE: Ben Whishaw has been tapped as the lead in Alan Ball’s pilot for HBO All Signs of Death, marking the British actor’s U.S. TV debut. The dark comedic drama, based on Charlie Huston’s 2009 crime noir novel The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, centers on Webster Filmore Goodhue (Whishaw) an inveterate twenty-something slacker who stumbles into a career as a crime scene cleaner,