EXCLUSIVE: James Graham is among a set of British writers enjoying something of a moment. Fresh from making waves with his Benedict Cumberbatch drama Brexit: The Uncivil War, he wrote a standout episode on Prince Charles for Season 3 of The Crown. He is currently on the publicity trail for his AMC/ITV drama Quiz, which brings a whole new perspective on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? cheating scandal that gripped Britain 20 years ago.
Now, Graham is turning his attentions to other projects. The writer told Deadline that he is working with Bron Studios to adapt his play Ink into a feature film. It’s not an unfamiliar path to screen for Graham, who adapted Quiz from a stage play. The Tony Award-winning Ink tells the story of a brash young Rupert Murdoch as he seeks to transform the fortunes of British tabloid newspaper The Sun.
It marks a return to the world of Murdoch for Bron, which last year financed Bombshell, the drama starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie about the women who took on Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Graham said he was excited about revisiting Ink. “We’re turning that into a movie, which will be really fun,” he said. Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res is producing.
One project Graham has parked, however, is his ambitious adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 with Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass. Deadline first revealed the Sony Pictures project back in 2014, but after years of wrestling with a script, Graham said they have admitted defeat for now. “Paul and I got very excited about it and then [we realized] it’s a difficult project,” he said. “The book is just so bloody perfect, we started going: ‘Let’s just pause for a second.’ The world of surveillance and tech moves on so quickly, we just needed to have a broader view of it.”
Elsewhere, Graham remains committed to theatre work and is turning his attentions to wild year for British politics in 2019, when British Parliament was thrown into paralysis by Brexit, Theresa May resigned as prime minister and Boris Johnson won a thumping majority in a December general election.
“I’m trying to make sense of what just happened last year in our Parliament by doing a historical play about John Major,” Graham explained. Former prime minister Major went to war with his own party over Britain’s relationship with the European Union in a 1993 battle which has echoes of Conservative Party contortions over Brexit.
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