Hugh Laurie is set to star in an adaptation of Lloyd Jones novel’ Mr. Pip for writer-director Andrew Adamson (Shrek 2). According to Risky Business, “Mr. Pip tells the story of the last white man left on the war-torn island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, who reopens a school and reads his favorite novel, Great Expectations, to the students, inspiring a gifted 14-year-old named Matilda.” For who can inspire a classroom full of fertile young minds better than The Last White Man (my rejected title for the film)?
Laurie is continuing to star on Fox’s House, and will co-star in the indie drama The Oranges with Leighton Meester and Catherine Keener. He’s also providing voice work for the upcoming animated film Arthur Christmas. Hit the jump for a statement from Laurie on joining Mr. Pip and a synopsis of the novel.
Said Laurie of joining the film:
“From the first words of the novel, and the first image of the screenplay, I was hooked on Mr. Pip,” said Laurie. “It’s an immensely touching, unique, yet completely unsentimental story of love. It is unlike any script I have read, or any story I have ever heard. Plus I get to go to Papua New Guinea and call it work. I am a very lucky man.”
Here’s the official synopsis of the book, which sounds more interesting than I expect the movie to be:
In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives.
On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.
So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing. [Amazon]