EXCLUSIVE: Fast-rising British actor Jack Lowden has been set as the male lead in Working Title and Focus FeaturesMary Queen Of Scots. Lowden will take on the role of Lord Darnley opposite Saoirse Ronan, who is playing the eponymous royal, and Margot Robbie as her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Stage director Josie Rourke is helming the film which is penned by House Of Cards creator Beau Willimon and based on the 2004 biography by John Guy, The True Life of Mary Stuart. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, and Debra Hayward are producing. Shooting is understood to be starting this summer.

Crowned the queen of Scotland before she was a year old, Mary added to that pedigree when her first husband became France’s king and she became queen consort in 1559. Despite that auspicious start, things didn’t go well from there. She later married her first cousin, Lord Darnley, a bad match that ended with his murder.

When she quickly married the man suspected of orchestrating the killing, an uprising against the couple resulted in her being imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. Forced to abdicate her throne to her year-old son, she failed in an attempt to wrest back the throne and fled for the protection of her cousin, England’s Queen Elizabeth 1. Mary had once claimed to be the rightful queen of England, a view embraced by Catholics. Perceived as a threat by her cousin, she was confined and ultimately executed for complicity in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

Guy’s book has been said to dispel the popular image of Mary as a romantic leading lady who achieved her ends through feminine wiles, and establishes her as the intellectual and political equal of Elizabeth I.

Lowden, who won an Olivier Award for 2013’s Ghosts, broke into features with Yann Demange’s ’71 and is next up in Christopher Nolan’s war epic, Dunkirk, from Warner Bros. He is also starring in the biopic of The Smiths’ frontman, Morrissey, England Is Mine, and recently wrapped the Stephen Merchant-helmed feature Fighting With My Family. In 2016, he played Nikolai Rostov in the BBC/Weinstein Co adaptation of War & Peace. He’s repped by UTA and Conway van Gelder Grant in the UK.