Alicia Vikander (Blue Bayou) is replacing Michelle Williams as Queen Catherine Parr in the royal thriller Firebrand from Brazilian helmer Karim Ainouz (The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão), Deadline has confirmed. She’ll star alongside Jude Law, who is set to portray King Henry VIII.
Ainousz’s first English-language feature, based on Elizabeth Fremantle’s bestselling historical novel Queen’s Gambit, centers on Parr—Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, who was the only one to avoid banishment or death.
By the time young Catherine Parr (Vikander) married the deteriorating, increasingly despotic King Henry VIII (Law), she had no assurances of a happy marriage; in fact, she had no assurances of surviving this marriage at all. Of her predecessors, two were thrown out, one died in childbirth and two were beheaded. While Catherine tried to keep her head about her to navigate the politics of her position, she brought a secret agenda. She was Protestant, believed it her duty to marry Henry, for it would be the only position in which she could convert him – and the kingdom – from his pro-Catholic position. That faith was tested when the church resisted granting his divorce from his first wife so he could marry Anne Boleyn, who would later be beheaded. With arrests, torture, and executions of Protestants on the rise, Catherine invited a dangerous game that would leave one of them dead before long. The thriller is told through Catherine’s singular point-of-view of the psychological horror of living with a monster—and the remarkable will to not only survive, but thrive.
Killing Eve‘s Jessica Ashworth and Henrietta Ashworth adapted the script, with Brouhaha Entertainment producing.
Vikander is perhaps best known for her Oscar-winning turn in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, and for her portrayal of the humanoid A.I. Ava in Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, which had her starring opposite Oscar Isaac. The actress recently wrapped production on Olivier Assayas’ limited series Irma Vep for A24 and HBO which is set to debut this fall, and most recently appeared in Justin Chon’s Blue Bayou for Focus Features, and David Lowery’s The Green Knight for A24. She has also appeared in films including The Glorias, Tomb Raider, Submergence, Tulip Fever, The Light Between Oceans, Jason Bourne, Burnt, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Testament of Youth, The Fifth Estate and Anna Karenina, among others.
News of Vikander’s Firebrand casting was first reported by The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who joins Deadline next month. Vikander is represented by UTA and Tavistock Wood Management in the UK.
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