Madonna, the pop singer-turned-director, will be in Berlin this Saturday to present footage from her W.E. to overseas distributors. Sales agent IM Global will be screening clips to around 200 invited guests but has held back from making any pre-sales until now. This is a tactic which IM Global used successfully before with A Single Man. “We think distributors are going to get a huge buzz out of the quality of what they will see,” IM Global CEO Stuart Ford tells me. “Sometimes there’s no substitute for letting the footage and the filmmaker speak for themselves.” W.E. stars Abbie Cornish as a modern-day New Yorker obsessed with the royal love story between Britain’s King Edward VII (James D’Arcy) and American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). The pic is still in post and will be for several months.
Art imitates life as two of the Fox acting dynasty act together for the first time on the big screen in Madonna’s W.E. film. James Fox (Sherlock Holmes) plays King George V, while his real-life son Laurence plays unwilling heir-to-the-throne Bertie. Shooting has just begun on location in England, France and the US.
W.E is a Julie & Julia-style story switching between the past and the present. Abbie Cornish stars as a young married New Yorker in 1998, obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate romantic love story: Edward VIII’s abdication for his love of Wallis Simpson. Andrea Riseborough plays Simpson and James D’Arcy, Edward.
It’s a project Madonna has been developing for a long time. The pop star has written the script herself with Alek Keshishian, who directed her in documentary In Bed With Madonna. One early version had a 70-year-old Mrs Simpson swaying to the Sex Pistols with her pet dogs.
Madonna’s first choices for Edward and Mrs Simpson — Ewan McGregor and Vera Farmiga — both abdicated from the project.
Two of Britain’s best-liked producers are working on W.E. Colin Vaines (Coriolanus) is producing, with Kris Tykier (Kick-Ass) executive producing. It has been reported that David Parfitt was going to produce alongside Vaines, but that he just couldn’t handle Her Madgeness. Parfitt assures me this isn’t true. The reason he dropped out was because of a scheduling conflict with his own feature, My Week With Marilyn, which starts prep next month.