Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Seven Day Itch

With the recent release of the final Harry Potter film, a brace of young actors suddenly find themselves unemployed for the first time in ten years. It remains to be seen whether the majority of them will pursue acting, pursue an entirely different career or merely stay at home hugging their cash. I reckon that Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch and Jessie Cave, better known to millions the world over as Ron Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Lavender Brown, have huge potential to do well not just on screen but also treading the boards. That leaves Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, the two most consistently criticised performers in the Harry Potter series, although I thought that they both coped exceptionally well as Harry and Hermione in the dramatically challenging two-part finale. Whilst Daniel currently re-invents himself on Broadway to much critical acclaim as a song-and-dance merchant in How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, our first opportunity to judge whether or not Emma can muster enough charisma to carve out a post-Potter career for herself comes this autumn in My Week with Marilyn.

The film is based on the memoir of the same name by Colin Clark, a recent Oxford graduate who in 1956 managed to secure himself a job as an on-set assistant on the troubled production of The Prince and the Showgirl. His parents had called in a favour from their friend and the film's director and leading man, one Laurence Olivier, and Clark found himself befriending the movie's vulnerable and isolated star attraction, Miss Marilyn Monroe and he ended up escorting the American abroad around England for the eponymous week. Tony Award winner and Angel Clare to Gemma Arterton's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Eddie Redmayne plays Clark with Michelle Williams (pictured above in a still from the movie) as his travelling companion. Williams has spoken candidly of her initial reticence at portraying such an iconic screen star on screen but was ultimately persuaded to do so by screenwriter Adrian Hodges and director Simon Curtis, both of whom are best known for their television work on projects such as Charles II: The Power and the Passion and The Sally Lockhart Mysteries and Cranford and 1999's David Copperfield respectively.

Redmayne and Williams are joined in the cast by a host of famous faces playing a host of famous faces. They include Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, Dominic Cooper as Monroe photographer Milton Greene and Dame Judi Dench as The Prince and the Showgirl co-star Dame Sybil Thorndike. Emma Watson will feature in a supporting role as a costume assistant called Lucy who catches the eye of the young Clark. Also to be seen in the film is Watson's Harry Potter co-star and one-time Madam Hooch, Zoe Wanamaker as Marilyn Monroe's acting coach Paula Strasberg, whose strong association with the Method style of acting greatly irked the traditional Olivier and added to the animosity between himself and his on-screen showgirl. My Week with Marilyn promises to be an endlessly fascinating account of time spent with a group of enduringly popular personalities.

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