EXCLUSIVE: British actress Gemma Chan has joined the cast of Working Title and Focus Features’ Mary Queen Of Scots. Chan will play Bess of Hardwick, the friend and confidante of Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) who, along with her husband the Earl of Shrewsbury, eventually became keeper of the captive Mary, Queen of Scots (Saoirse Ronan) for 15 years. Pic also stars Martin Compston, who plays the Earl of Bothwell, and Jack Lowden, who plays Lord Darnley.
Stage director Josie Rourke is directing the title, which is written 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. Pic is expected to begin shooting 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 form there. She later married her first cousin, Lord Darnley, a bad match that ended with his murder.
When she quickly married Bothwell, who was 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 I. 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.
Chan is perhaps best known for her role in the BAFTA-nominated Channel 4/AMC artificial intelligence drama Humans. The first series was Channel 4’s biggest original drama hit for 20 years, achieving a consolidated audience of 3.4 million viewers to its launch episode. She’ll reprise her role in the third series of Humans next year.
Chan can also next be seen by Warner Bros’ upcoming Crazy Rich Asians, based on Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel. The film follows the dramatic lives of the wealthy and privileged in Singapore.
Chan is repped by Independent Talent Group in the UK and UTA in the U.S.