Few men have had adapted the works of Shakespeare for the screen quite so passionately as Kenneth Branagh and Sir Laurence Olivier. It is suitable, then, that the former is in talks to play the latter in the Marilyn Monroe biopic My Week With Marilyn. Michelle Williams will star as the titular bombshell, with British TV producer Simon Curtis set to direct. My Week takes place on the set of the 1957 comedy The Prince and the Showgirl, where Monroe reportedly clashed with director/co-star Olivier. More after the jump:
Ralph Fiennes was to portray Olivier at one point, but had to back out to tend to his own Shakespeare adaptation, Coriolanus. Production Weekly [via The Playlist] reports that Branagh is in talks to fill the role for the September production date. It should be noted that, as director of the mega-budgeted comic book adaptation Thor, Branagh ought to be very busy polishing the Marvel Studios tentpole up until its May 6, 2011 release. It would not be too surprising if, like Fiennes before him, Branagh is otherwise occupied by his directorial duties.
Like Curtis, Branagh has spent a fair amount of cruising the British television circuit, most recently in England’s take on the Swedish Wallander series. If my IMDB skills are up to snuff, Branagh and Curtis have crossed paths exactly one time, on a 1995 production of the Sean O’Casey play The Shadow of a Gunman; Branagh starred with Curtis producing.
This is one of two projects currently in development centered around the life of Monroe; the other, Blonde, is toplined by Naomi Watts with Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James) at the helm. My Week is based in part on Olivier employee Colin Clark’s memoir The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier. Here’s a synopsis via Amazon:
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.