Here’s a first look at Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, the witchy central character in Great Expectations, Mike Newell’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel. Miss Havisham is an iconic character over here in Britain: an embittered spinster who sits in her mouldering mansion still wearing the wedding dress she wore when she was jilted at the altar; she has trained her adopted daughter Estella to break men’s hearts just as her heart was broken. Bonham Carter co-stars opposite Ralph Fiennes as escaped convict Magwitch. Producer Stephen Woolley tells me the Oscar nominee is playing Miss Havisham at the same age she is in Dickens novel — previous incarnations by Charlotte Rampling, Anne Bancroft and, most memorably, Martita Hunt in David Lean’s version played her much older. New York-based Unison Films is searching for a U.S. deal for the film, which Lionsgate UK will release in fall 2012. Hanway Films, which is handling all other territories, will show footage in Berlin. Newell will finish shooting the BBC Films-backed project by Christmas. Robbie Coltrane, Sally Hawkins and David Walliams (Little Britain) co-star, with Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) as Pip, the young hero of the story.
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