[This is a re-print of my review from the 2011 Toronto Film Festival]
In Anonymous, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) tells young playwright Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto), “All artists have something to say because otherwise they’d just make shoes.” It’s a funny quote when you consider that director Roland Emmerich‘s previous filmography is mainly comprised of brainless blockbusters like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. Anonymous, a political thriller wrapped in a conspiracy theory, could not be further from those movies and Emmerich sets out like a man with something to prove. There are no monsters, aliens, cataclysms, and the only explosion is the destruction of the Globe Theatre, which actually did burn to the ground in 1613. The film plays fast and loose with most historical facts (including why the Globe burned down), but it manages to craft an intriguing period piece before getting bogged down in political intrigue and tearing down historical figures.
We are hearing through various sources that Edward Hogg is the first actor to be cast in Roland Emmerich’s upcoming Elizabethan political-thriller Anonymous. Back in October, we reported that Emmerich planned to make a major departure from his usual big-budget, planet-hate movies and tell a much smaller, but more dramatically rich story. Anonymous is based on the controversial notion that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by someone else-in this case, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as the secret author (as opposed to Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon). The film portrays the revelation of de Vere against the backdrop of the Essex Rebellion (the political-thriller) aspect of the story. In November, Steve interviewed Emmerich about the project and learned that the budget was around $30 million and would begin shooting in Berlin in March. Today, we learned that it would be at Berlin’s Babelsberg Studios.
As for Hogg, he’s not a big name actor, but he’s received positive notices for his performances in White Lightnin‘ and the British comedy Bunny and the Bull. What I find more interesting about his career is that he’s performed on stage in King Lear, The Tempest, and Measure for Measure, and he played female roles in the latter two (that’s doing it old school Shakespeare/”de Vere”). It’s currently unknown what part Hogg will play in Anonymous but he’s the first piece casting we’ve heard, and we should be hearing about other additions to the cast soon. We’ll keep you updated. And let me assure you that no Earl of Oxford wrote this report. God save the Queen.