The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is about much more than a man who drew remarkable portraits of cats. According to the movie’s star, Benedict Cumberbatch, the Amazon Studios project is about an artist in Victorian London who pursues many subjects with passion: boxing, painting, composing an opera (not a very good one, says Cumberbatch) and theorizing about the mechanical workings of the world, including the mysteries of electricity.
“He felt this thing all his life about electricity,” Cumberbatch said on the panel for the movie at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles awards-season event Sunday. But “the real electricity is love,” continued the actor. “That’s the flow, that’s the course that runs through his entire life. And, of course, it’s all from Emily.”
Emily is the love of Wain’s life, played by Emmy winner Claire Foy. When first they meet in the film, she is governess to his younger siblings of whom Wain is guardian after his father died. She is also about 10 years Louis’ senior.
Cumberbatch observed that, in Victorian London, “That’s a real taboo. That’s out of your lane.” But, as is evidenced by his wide array of interests, Wain was not a man who stayed in his lane.
Despite the multifaceted role, “The real lure for me was really when Will Sharpe came on board,” said Cumberbatch, effusively praising the director-writer’s UK series Flowers, and calling Sharpe “a remarkable talent right at the beginning of his cinematic life.”
Another attraction was, of course, acting opposite Emmy/SAG/Golden Globe winner Foy. Cumberbatch said she came on “when someone dropped out” of playing Emily. “And thank God,” said the actor of The Crown star.
The film spans from the late 1800s to the 1930s and centers on forgotten British artist Wain, a brilliant but troubled soul whose fascination with the mysteries of the world is complicated and deepened when he meets the love of his life, Emily. Wain is best known for his fantastic drawings of anthropomorphized cats which, toward the end of his career, became more and more surreal.
The cast also includes Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones, Sharon Rooney, Aimee Lou Wood, Hayley Squires, Stacy Martin, Phoebe Nicholls, Adeel Akhtar, Asim Chaudhry, Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt and Sophia di Martino. Taika Waititi and Nick Cave, with Olivia Colman (who starred in Sharpe’s Flowers) providing narration.
Amazon released the pic theatrically October 22 in the U.S. and via Prime Video on November 5. It hits other territories in early 2022.
Check out the panel video above.
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