Monday, September 5, 2011

The Ruskins Are Coming

All has been rather quiet on Emma Thompson front of late. The second Nanny McPhee movie was released over a year and a half ago and surely her ten seconds in the final Harry Potter didn't take up too much of her time! It seems that Miss Thompson and Greg Wise, her husband and one-time Willoughby, have been hard at work on a screenplay based on the life of Euphemia Gray, pictured above. Effie, which is due to start filming in October under the direction of Richard Laxton, will tell the fascinating story of renowned art critic John Ruskin's disastrous relationship with a young girl he marries, who eventually leaves him when she falls in love with his protege, the pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Milais. Something of a cause celebre in 1850s London, Effie was granted an annulment from Ruskin for his alleged inability to consummate their marriage.

The love triangle was recently chronicled in the 2009 BBC dramatisation of the lives of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Desperate Romantics. Tom Hollander, usually unlucky-in-love in period pieces, starred as Ruskin with the roles of Effie and Milais touchingly played by Zoe Tapper and Samuel Barnett. In this new film version, Wise himself will play Ruskin with Tom Sturridge as his love rival Milais. The illustrious supporting cast includes Julie Walters and Derek Jacobi as Ruskin's parents, Edward Fox as patron of the Royal Academy and Ruskin's detractor, Sir Charles Eastlake and Thompson as Effie's confidante and caretaker, Lady Eastlake. The coveted role of Effie, once considered a toss-up between Carey Mulligan and Saoirse Ronan, will be played by American teenager Dakota Fanning. Now seventeen and hoping make the tricky transition from child star to grown-up actress, Fanning will first finish shooting another British movie, Now is Good, before getting her Victorian groove on. Meanwhile, Mulligan and Ronan are going back in time themselves for Baz Luhrmann's new film of The Great Gatsby and Joe Wright's new film of Anna Karenina respectively.

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