EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man), Emmy nominee Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), BAFTA winner Eileen Atkins (The Crown), BAFTA winner Derek Jacobi (Gladiator), IFTA nominee Aidan Turner (The Hobbit) and Endeavour star Roger Allam are set to lead cast in feature comedy Mr. Shaw Goes To Hollywood, which is being launched for the TIFF market.
Set in 1933, the movie will chart how celebrated playwright, George Bernard Shaw (Jacobi), visited Hollywood with his formidable wife, Charlotte (Atkins). The idea of turning Shaw’s most successful play, Pygmalion, into a film was a hot topic of conversation as the great and the good of Hollywood vied for his attention, desperate to be part of the next big motion picture. How would the Irish-born writer and social reformer rub along with the Hollywood elite and, perhaps more importantly, did he have any intention of selling the rights to his beloved story to a film studio in the first place? Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood tells the story of what might have happened before the world came to know the play in its guise as a musical, My Fair Lady.
Hoffman will play legendary studio boss Louis B Mayer, co-founder of MGM. Aidan Turner will play Clark Gable and Sam Neill will be William Randolph Hearst.
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BAFTA nominee Simon Callow (Four Weddings And A Funeral) has been tapped to direct the movie from a screenplay by seven-time Emmy-winner Mark Saltzman (Sesame Street) who had previously scripted a play of the same name. Callow’s second film as director is currently in pre-production, with filming scheduled to start later this year in the UK.
Bankside is launching world sales for the Toronto market this week.
Pic is being produced by Rhian Williams, Joanne Podmore (You’re Not You) and Rachel Higginson. Ellen Little is executive producing alongside Saltzman and Yuri Spiro.
Callow said of the project: “Hollywood in 1933 was at the very height of its power, reaching untold millions of cinemagoers across the world, gobbling up the greatest writers, directors and actors, and as often as not spitting them out again. It was a world both stylish and savage, ruthlessly controlled by the studio bosses, among whom Louis B Mayer (Hoffman) was the arch-manipulator. Mark Saltzman’s sparkling screenplay shows us what happens when such a man encounters someone whose work he wants but whose wealth and fame make him unbiddable. Perhaps the greatest celebrity of his time, GBS (Jacobi) runs rings round Hollywood, compelling some of the most legendary figures of movie history to confront themselves and the reality of their situations. We see the brutal truth of what lies behind the elegant, witty surface; it is a spectacle both delicious and sobering.”
Producer Jo Podmore added: “Such clever, cunning and satirical work is a rare find these days. We are hugely fortunate to have attracted some of the industry’s finest and most decorated acting talents to work alongside Simon’s famous sharp wit. All of which will create a uniquely dazzling and entertaining movie; bringing to life the glamour, charm, back-stabbing and double-dealing of Hollywood’s Golden Age.”
Callow is best known for his prolific body of acting both on stage and screen, and his work both as writer and stage director, directing the West End and Broadway premieres of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine starring Pauline Collins, as well as Single Spies by Alan Bennett at the National Theatre and the musicals Carmen Jones, The Pajama Game and My Fair Lady. His feature film debut was The Ballad of Sad Café for Merchant-Ivory, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Rod Steiger.
Williams, Podmore and Higginson are represented by UTA and ITG; Callow by Cruickshank Cazenove; Saltzman by Sendroff & Baruch; Neill by ICM Partners, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, Curtis Brown Group and Shanahan Management; Hoffman by Tavistock Wood Management and WME; Atkins and Jacobi by Independent Talent Group; and Turner by ICM Partners and Lisa Richards Agency.
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