HBO, Beeb buckle up for TV movie

LONDON — Brit thesps Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch will star in “Stuart: A Life Backwards,” Neal Street Productions’ adaptation of Alexander Masters’ biography of a homeless alcoholic with a violent past for HBO Films and the BBC.

Hardy (“Black Hawk Down,” “Marie Antoinette”) will topline as Stuart who strikes up a friendship with Masters, played by Cumberbatch (“Starter For Ten,” “Atonement”). The movie, helmed by David Attwood (“To the Ends of the Earth”), has started shooting in Stuart’s home-town of Cambridge and London.

The unlikely alliance between Masters and the wildly unpredictable Stuart inspired the bio, which was short listed for the prestigious Whitbread book of the year award. Like the book, Masters’ script will tell the story of Stuart’s chaotic life and childhood backwards, beginning with Stuart’s death and ending with the event that led to his mental torment.

“Masters’ poignant retelling of this true story of the unlikely pairing of these two totally disparate young men, along with the reverse chronology of the story-telling, makes this a unique and deeply moving look at the plight of the homeless,” said Colin Callender, president of HBO Films.

“Alexander’s script preserves the book’s brilliant, anarchic quality. It’s a story told backwards, a biopic of an unknown man that mixes humor and terrible tragedy: it breaks all the rules” said Pippa Harris, producer for Neal Street.

“Stuart: A Life Backwards” is executive produced by Sam Mendes and Tara Cook for Neal Street, and Julie Gardner for the BBC. Maria Zuckerman and Julie Goldstein are HBO Films’ creative executives on the project.

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