Stephen Daldry

In October 1992, the Royal National Theater opened a new production of the 1945 J. B. Priestley play “An Inspector Calls,” and a directing star was born: Banished — along with the drawing room in which the play is traditionally set — was any sense of musty naturalism. In its place was a fiercely expressionist, politically trenchant take on an English war-horse that made an overnight sensation of its stager, Stephen Daldry.

Now 38, and numerous prizes (including back-to-back Oliviers in 1993 and ’94, as well as a 1994 Tony) and a five-year tenure as Royal Court artistic director later, Daldry has made the move to film. “Dancer,” a $4.5 million pic written by Lee Hall and co-produced by Tiger Aspect Pictures and Working Title’s WT2, is being geared up for a premiere at Cannes, the initial result of a nonexclusive, first-look deal between Daldry and Working Title inked in May 1997. BBC Films and Working Title are co-exec producers in association with the Arts Council of England.

“It was just to try something new — to try and understand the form,” Daldry says of his interest in filmmaking, having won acclaim (and a British Academy of Film & Television Arts nomination) last year for directing the poignant 10-minute short “Eight.”

Also on the cards: a feature, co-written with Agnieszka Holland, on the life of Gitta Sereny, the controversial writer-biographer. Before that, however, Daldry returns to his roots, staging a play — as yet unnamed — for the Royal Court later this year.

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