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‘Homeland’s Damian Lewis To Star With Nicole Kidman In ‘Queen Of The Desert’

By | Monday October 21, 2013 @ 1:57pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Damian Lewis, who has won Golden Globes and Emmys for his work as POW-turned-terrorist Nicolas Brody in Showtime’s Homeland, is near a deal to star opposite Nicole Kidman in director Werner Herzog’s Queen Of The Desert. The UK-born Lewis won’t have to hide his homegrown accent for the feature: He will play Lt. Col. Charles Doughty-Wylie, an unhappily married English war hero who engages in a turbulent affair with Gertrude Bell (Kidman), with whom he exchanged love letters with from 1913-1915 until he was killed in active duty at Gallipoli. Production is scheduled to begin in December.

Related: Toronto: Sands Shift In ‘Queen Of The Desert’

Queen Of The Desert refers to Bell, the iconic explorer, writer, archeologist and attaché for the British Empire who is credited with helping to catalyze the formation of the Middle East at the dawn of the 20th century. Nick Raslan is producing through his Palmyra Films banner along with Cassian Elwes and Michael Benaroya. Benaroya Pictures banner is financing the film. Sierra/Affinity will handle international sales.

Lewis is represented by WME, Markham, Froggatt and Irwin, and Karl Austen.

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Toronto: Sands Shift In ‘Queen Of The Desert;’ Nicole Kidman Eyed To Replace Naomi Watts As Gertrude Bell

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Looks like director Werner Herzog is going to get a new Queen Of The Desert. I’m hearing that Naomi Watts is exiting the film about the early 20th Century explorer Gertrude Bell, and that Nicole Kidman is in talks to take the plum role.

This follows a switch of the male leads earlier this year, when Jude Law departed and James Franco replaced him. Robert Pattinson also stars. Bell is the iconic explorer, writer, archeologist and attaché for the British Empire who is credited with helping to catalyze the formation of the Middle East at the dawn of the 20th century. The story plays with the sweep of Lawrence Of Arabia, potentially, and Kidman seems a nice match for the material.

Nick Raslan is producing through his Palmyra Films banner along with Cassian Elwes and Michael Benaroya. Benaroya’s Benaroya Pictures banner will finance the film. Sierra/Affinity will handle international sales.

Kidman is here in Toronto where her new movie The Railway Man premiered Friday evening. That Jonathan Teplitzky-directed film, about a brutalized WWII POW who gets to confront his Japanese torturer, is considered a prime acquisition title here in the festival here. Kidman also stars in the Olivier Dahan-directed Grace Of Monaco, which The Weinstein Company releases November 27, in the head of the Oscar race. Kidman is repped by CAA and … Read More »

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James Franco Eyeing Werner Herzog’s Gertrude Bell Pic

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 9:35am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m not certain it’s going to happen as they try to sort scheduling issues, but Werner Herzog’s Queen Of The Desert has James Franco circling the role that Jude Law was going to play. If you recall, Herzog lined up Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson to star in the story of Gertrude Bell’s life as a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th Century. Law had signed on to the film, but exited awhile ago to do the play Henry V, and the project ground to a halt. Getting a commitment from Franco would put the picture back on track. Stay tuned. There is kind of a race on Gertrude Bell, as Ridley Scott also has one that Angelina Jolie was eyeing. But it looks like Scott is working hard on his Biblical film Exodus at Fox–Christian Bale is eyeing the role of Moses–and Jolie is preparing to direct Unbroken, the unbelievable life of Olympian sprinter-turned WWII POW Louis Zamperini. So both of them are certainly preoccupied.

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Angelina Jolie To Star In Luc Besson-Directed Dramatic Thriller Film

By | Tuesday December 6, 2011 @ 1:22pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Angelina Jolie is in talks to star in an untitled big-scale movie written and directed by Luc Besson. Besson currently has The Lady in the Oscar mix, but this film sounds like a closer cousin to early Besson efforts like The Professional, La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element.

I’m told that there are serious talks going on for Jolie to star next spring in a dramatic thriller that is rooted in true scientific elements. Besson’s EuropaCorp developed it and will co-finance, and negotiations are already underway with a studio for domestic distribution. The Besson film would be Jolie’s next as an actress, and it would come before she teams with director Ridley Scott on a historical epic about Gertrude Bell that The Constant Gardener scribe Jeffrey Caine is currently rewriting. I’m told there’s a high likelihood that both films will land at the same studio. Read More »

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Ridley Scott And Gerard Butler Plot Film About Simon Mann, Who Tried African Coup

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: While the material marketplace has cooled as the holiday approaches, studios have been tempted by a pitch for a fact-based thriller that has Ridley Scott attached to direct and produce through his Scott Free banner, Gerard Butler to star, and Robert Edwards (The Bomb In My Garden) to write the script. Scott will produce with Giannina Facio and Alan Siegel. Butler wants to play Simon Mann, a former British army officer who in 2004 put together a band of mercenaries to attempt a coup against the president of Equatorial Guinea. The coup attempt was thwarted in Zimbabwe, where Mann went to pick up weapons. He spent five years in a harsh prison there before being taken to Equatorial Guinea where he was sentenced to 34 years–but spared that sentence when he received a presidential pardon in 2009.. His backers –Mann said one was Mark Thatcher, son of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—disavowed involvement with Mann after the coup failed. Both Mann and his wife Amanda have been making the rounds at studios the past several days along with Edwards, and insiders say there are high hopes this will end in a deal. Scott and Facio are also developing a biopic of Middle East pioneer Gertrude Bell and Gucci, the Fox 2000 focusing on the volatile relationship between Maurizio Gucci and ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani, who drew a 26-year sentence for plotting his 1995 murder. Angelina Jolie has … Read More »

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