The veteran British director Simon Curtis, who made the leap from television to feature films with 2011’s My Week with Marilyn, is preparing a legal drama with a dark historical framing. Woman in Gold is the real life story of Maria Altmann, who as a young Jewish woman barely escaped Austria when Nazi Germany annexed it in 1938 and then sued the Austrian state 60 years later to recover five paintings by Gustav Klimt (worth approximately $160 million) that has passed from her family to the Germans – shades of The Monuments Men – and after World War II to the new Austrian authorities. Working through American courts, it was a long struggle against a dismissive opponent for Altmann and her lawyer, Randol Schoenberg.
Curtis, who saw Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe where most would have demurred, has cast Helen Mirren (The Queen, Hitchcock; pictured) as Maria, and having initially pursued the much in demand Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-man) for her legal representative, is now looking at Ryan Reynolds (Buried) for the part of Randol. As the lawyer for the Austrian government who fights the pair, Curtis has called on German actor Daniel Bruhl (Rush). Bruhl is currently filming Ich Und Kaminski, the new feature from his Goodbye Lenin! director Wolfgang Becker, where he plays a journalist hoping the artist he’s profiling will die so he can sell his story.
It’s an old Hollywood rule but it persists: need a good villain, cast a Brit: joining the ranks of Alan Rickman (Die Hard’s Hans Gruber), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter), and Tom Hiddleston (Thor’s Loki) will be Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla, The East), who’ll play Dr. Victor Doom in the rebooted Fantastic Four, while it appears that Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) is the favourite to play the next Bond villain opposite Daniel Craig in Sam Mendes’ untitled 2015 007 blockbuster.
Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes, who made the offbeat but beguiling Tabu, is now turning his feel for memory and storytelling to the classic collection of tales assembled from ancient folklore, Arabian Nights. Gomes’ version, however, will be set in contemporary Portugal, with the stories told reflecting the country’s economic woes. His cast for the modern day One Thousand and One Nights includes Adrian Luz (Night Train to Lisbon), Carloto Cotta (Tabu), and Rogerio Samora (The Gilded Cage).
Rockwell and Wiig have heart to give
Sam Rockwell has never quite been a movie star, but his sharp idiosyncrasies have been put to great use in films as diverse as Matchstick Men, Moon and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Having cast him as sympathetic shoulder to their adolescent hero in The Way Way Back, the writing and directing team of Nat Faxon and Jim Rush (empowered by their Academy Awards for penning The Descendants with Alexander Payne) have put Rockwell at the centre of their action comedy The Heart, where he’ll play a man illegally transporting organs alongside a desperate woman, to be played Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids). No word yet on whether it will have a British villain, but Eddy Marsan would probably come up a treat.