Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston are being sought to star in a big-screen adaptation of the classic first world war play Journey’s End, according to the Sunday Times.
The project has been mooted for a number of years but, according to the Times, has been rekindled following intervention by Prince Andrew ahead of the 100th anniversary of the war.
Andrew reportedly wrote to rights holder Warner Bros asking executives not to stand in the way of a new film: RC Sherriff’s 1928 play, set among a group of British army infantry officers in the trenches of Saint-Quentin, Aisne, in the final months of the conflict, has been previously adapted for a 1930 movie and 1988 TV series starring Jeremy Northam. Prince Andrew is said to have argued that the project is essential to Britain’s commemorations of the anniversary.
The Times tips Cumberbatch to play the lead role of Captain Stanhope, with Hiddleston as the enthusiastic Lieutenant Osborne. Les Misérables’ Eddie Redmayne is also being touted for a role. All three men have experience in first world war-themed drama: Cumberbatch and Hiddleston in Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse; Redmayne in the BBC TV adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong. Cumberbatch was also well-reviewed for his turn as idealistic government statistician Christopher Tietjens in the BBC series Parade’s End, which is set during the war.
Producer Guy De Beaujeu of Fluidity Films confirmed the three men were the film-makers’ ideal candidates to star in the film, which will be directed by David Grindley. But he said no actors had yet been approached. The rights to the film were due to be signed over to the UK production company on Monday.
“We are literally about to sign the film rights, which were indeed lost,” he told the Guardian. “Prince Andrew’s involvement forced Warner into doing some due diligence. They discovered that the rights had lapsed in 2008. Warner were not forced to give up the rights; they very kindly looked into them and found they did not hold them in the UK and Eire any longer.
“We’ve been chasing the rights for more than a year and it’s taken that long to unravel the complexity of it. We thought they had been lost forever. I felt like it was such an important thing for the UK in the centenary that we should have the rights back.
“We feel that as one of the most significant anti-war plays ever written – Sheriff didn’t see it that way of course – it’s really important that we get the very best actors of their generation to take part. We want it to be as attractive to as many people as possible.”
Grindley previously directed the London and Broadway revivals of the stage version of Journey’s End.
Source: The Guardian