Art imitates life as two of the Fox acting dynasty act together for the first time on the big screen in Madonna’s W.E. film. James Fox (Sherlock Holmes) plays King George V, while his real-life son Laurence plays unwilling heir-to-the-throne Bertie. Shooting has just begun on location in England, France and the US.
W.E is a Julie & Julia-style story switching between the past and the present. Abbie Cornish stars as a young married New Yorker in 1998, obsessed with what she perceives as the ultimate romantic love story: Edward VIII’s abdication for his love of Wallis Simpson. Andrea Riseborough plays Simpson and James D’Arcy, Edward.
It’s a project Madonna has been developing for a long time. The pop star has written the script herself with Alek Keshishian, who directed her in documentary In Bed With Madonna. One early version had a 70-year-old Mrs Simpson swaying to the Sex Pistols with her pet dogs.
Madonna’s first choices for Edward and Mrs Simpson — Ewan McGregor and Vera Farmiga — both abdicated from the project.
Two of Britain’s best-liked producers are working on W.E. Colin Vaines (Coriolanus) is producing, with Kris Tykier (Kick-Ass) executive producing. It has been reported that David Parfitt was going to produce alongside Vaines, but that he just couldn’t handle Her Madgeness. Parfitt assures me this isn’t true. The reason he dropped out was because of a scheduling conflict with his own feature, My Week With Marilyn, which starts prep next month.
No word on where the money’s coming from to make W.E. Could it be that Madonna is fully financing herself hoping a studio buys it from her?
Interestingly, another King George VI project The King’s Speech wrapped recently. George, who had a dreadful stammer, never wanted to be king. Edward’s abdication forced him to become monarch. George went to see an unorthodox Australian speech therapist to help him overcome his stammering. Colin Firth stars as George, Helena Bonham Carter as his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and Geoffrey Rush as his doctor. Tom Hooper (The Damned United) directs for The Weinstein Company/FilmNation. Financiers include UK Film Council and Prescience. I’m hearing that the test scores are through the roof.