Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts to Lead Reimagined ‘Hamlet’ Pic, ‘Ophelia’

     May 4, 2016


You might think that a person would need a break between filming, promoting and extensively training for one of the biggest franchises on the planet, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens breakout Daisy Ridley is playing it smart and doubling down on her newfound stardom while the iron is hot, so to speak. Ridley recently signed on to the J.J. Abrams produced Kolma, a fantasy drama from The Diary of Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller, as well as the war-torn romantic drama The Lost Wife, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down.

For her latest project, Ridley will star alongside Naomi Watts in Ophelia, a pulse-pounding reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, focusing on the untold story of Hamlet’s doomed love Ophelia (Ridley) and her relationship with his mother, Queen Gertrude (Watts). Based on Lisa Klein‘s hit novel of the same name, Ophelia is set to be directed by Claire McCarthy (The Waiting City) from a script by Mad Men scribe Semi ChellasDaniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger (The Brothers Grimm) will produce with Sarah Curtis (Hysteria).


Image via Lucasfilm

Here’s the official synopsis:

Set in the 14th Century but spoken in a contemporary voice, OPHELIA is a pulse-pounding insight into a perilous world of murder and betrayal. Ophelia takes center stage as the Queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Beautiful and intelligent, she soon captures the attention of the handsome Prince Hamlet and their forbidden love blossoms. As war brews, lust and betrayal are tearing Elsinore Castle apart and Ophelia must decide between her true love or her own life in order to protect a very dangerous secret.

Ophelia is brimming with youth-fueled charisma, exploring the nature of true love and beauty, and I’m so excited to bring this fresh mythic spin to Hamlet from a female perspective,” commented Claire McCarthy.  “This retelling will be experienced through the eyes of Ophelia and has the kind of romance, complexity and suspense that makes this beloved story exciting to younger audiences,” she continued.

naomi watts st vincent de van nuys

Image via Gaumont

“Sarah, Ehren & I have always treated this film like a jewel, since there’s something extra precious in bringing to life a treasured female icon, celebrated for centuries as an alluring figure in the shadows of Shakespeare’s most famous work, without ever really having her own story told,” said Producer Daniel Bobker. “Whether it’s for the legions of fans of romantic tragic characters, or the millions of visitors who annually seek out the classic Millais painting of Ophelia at London’s Tate Gallery, Ophelia holds a special place in the heart of the cultural canon—so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the talented female team of Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, and Claire McCarthy set to make a film with our friends at Covert Media that’ll finally shed light on a character who’s fascinated so many for so long.”

It’s a great concept — the beleaguered ladies of Elsinore, Ophelia and Queen Gertrude are due for some POV respect in the tale of Hamlet’s tragic mask of madness, and Ridley and Watts are just about impeccably cast in either role. Having never read the book, I’ll be curious to see how they handle the character of Hamlet and even more so to see how they cast him next to the two formidable female leads. Hopefully, we’ll get some news soon as Covert Media will be shopping the project at Cannes.

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