Judi Dench has signed on to star opposite Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn, one of two Marilyn Monroe biopics in development. This one takes place on the contentious set of 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl, in which Monroe (Williams) sought respectability by working with lauded actor/director Laurence Olivier (Branagh); unfortunately Olivier came to loathe the blonde bombshell and treat her like “a naughty schoolgirl.” , Dench will play fellow dame Sybil Thorndike, one of the stars of Prince.
According to The Daily Mail, Dench will start shooting her scenes on September 20th, two weeks prior to the primary filming schedule. The accommodation resulted from Dench’s commitment to James Madden’s adaptation of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Last we checked, Fox Searchlight was “reaching out” to Dench, Julie Christie, Tom Wilkinson, and Peter O’Toole. This report confirms that Dench and Madden (Shakespeare in Love) are on board — I wonder how things fared with Christie, Wilkinson, and O’Toole. Hit the jump for synopses of the books that inspired Ms. Dench’s projects.
My Week is based in part on notes kept by Olivier employee Colin Clark during production, recorded in The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier. The synopsis:
Clark, son of historian Sir Kenneth Clark, spent his days just after college as third assistant director (read gofer) on the set of the 1957 British film The Prince and The Showgirl. What made this film unique, and the reason Clark decided to keep a daily journal, was the unlikely pairing of Marilyn Monroe and Sir Lawrence Olivier in the title roles.
Monroe hoped this would give her a more serious image; Olivier hoped to boost his film career. But Monroe was insecure; treated badly by her new husband, Arthur Miller; and often late and on drugs. Olivier, the consummate professional, had no patience. [Amazon]
Likewise, Hotel is inspired by Deborah Moggach’s These Foolish Things. The synopsis:
Dr Ravi Kapoor has reached the end of his tether. He is over-worked and exhausted; his South London hospital is out of funds; and reporters are hounding him about a pensioner, who for three days lay on a trolley in A and E, untended, the blood stiffening on her clothes. Even home life has become impossible, as his father-in-law, a disgusting and difficult old man, has been kicked out of his nursing home and has moved into Ravi’s spare bedroom. But then that ‘tip top man’, his cousin, Sonny, has his brainwave, his ‘great eureka’.
These Foolish Things is about Dunroamin, a converted guesthouse in Bangalore, where Sonny opens a home for old people. Travel and set-up are inexpensive, staff willing and plentiful – and the British pensionsers can enjoy the hot weather and take mango juice with their gin. Skilfully inter-weaving the stories of the inhabitants of Dunroamin, their characters and their families, Deborah Moggach has created a world in which hilarity is matched with the poignancy of getting old, and comedy with the darker issues of care in the community. [Amazon]