Remember David Seidler? The seventy-something screenwriter of “The King’s Speech” who charmed on the awards circuit during the year of “Speech’s” dominance? I know you must, because it’s pretty rare that someone in their seventies who’s not a British actor gets seen anywhere in Hollywood, let alone on the stage of the Academy Awards. Well, good news, now that we’ve jogged your memory–he’s got another project all financed and ready to go and yes, it’s based on another historical figure.
According to Deadline, the newly formed Cascade Pictures will put up the money for “Star of the Morning,” Kirsten Ellis’s biography of Lady Hester Stanhope. Gareth Unwin, who produced “The King’s Speech,” will do the same here.
I’m sure you’re now wondering, “Who is Lady Hester Stanhope? Is she on Downton Abbey?” No! That’s fiction (we think). Lady Stanhope was a real 19th century figure. Here’s the description of Ellis’s book from Amazon…oh, wait, Amazon doesn’t have a description of the book. Well. How embarrassing. How about this? Here’s a description from another Stanhope bio, “Lady Hester Stanhope: The Unconventional Life of the ‘Queen of the Desert,’” by Joan Haslip:
This is the fantastic true story of Pitt the Younger’s niece, Lady Hester Stanhope, who, at the turn of the eighteenth century left her homeland and travelled through Cairo, Jaffa, Damascus, Palmyra – braving bandit-infested territories to visit cities which seldom been seen by Europeans and charming a series of murderous despots. In 1810, after the death of her uncle and that of the man she loved, Hester left England for the east, never to return. She was thirty-three. Her retinue included a private physician and her young lover. In Jaffa, she showed her utter fearlessness for the first but by no means the last time by demanding, and receiving, the protection of the bandit-in-chief when crossing the dangerous countryside to Jerusalem. By the time her caravan approached the foothills of Mount Lebanon, the Englishwoman had largely disappeared. In her place was a mannish figure who wore a species of male oriental clothing, smoked a bubbly narghila, and could swear at her mule drivers in three languages. Joan Haslip’s timeless and engaging biography explores the incredible life of a young woman which would be amazing if it happened today and, two centuries ago, was almost unbelievable.
It’s actually amazing how many well-bred British ladies were roaming around the Middle East and India before they even had the vote at home (I’m thinking of you, Lady Anne Blunt and Gertrude Bell). Anyway, this looks like another part for an actress who’s hoping to find herself on the awards circuit (Naomi Watts has long been attached to a Bell project).
And the quote from Cascade Pictures CEO Mark Fisher: “Working with Gareth and David to bring this enthralling story to screen is the best opening scene for Cascade as a company.”
Indeed. The film is supposed to go into production later this year.