LONDON — Brit James D’Arcy will star in “W.E.,” Madonna’s second directorial effort.
D’Arcy takes center stage as King Edward VIII in the pic about the affair between the British monarch and Wallis Simpson that led to Edward’s abdication of the throne to marry the American divorcee in 1936.
D’Arcy joins Andrea Riseborough, Abbie Cornish and Oscar Isaac in the pic, which Madonna penned with Alek Keshishian, who directed the queen of pop in 1991’s “Madonna: Truth or Dare.”
Riseborough, best known for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in the BBC drama “The Long Walk to Finchley,” will play Wallis, while Cornish and Isaac limn a couple in the present day.
Cornish is Wally, a woman in a loveless marriage, who meets Isaac’s Russian character, Evgeni at a Sotheby auction. Her belief in Wallis and Edward’s great love provides the backdrop for the tales of both romances.
Former Miramax exec Colin Vaines will produce the pic, which will begin shooting in Blighty on July 4, while Kris Thykier, producer of “Kick Ass” and “Harry Brown,” will executive produce.
Vaines said he feels good about the “fresh, young” cast now on board the project, which previously had Vera Farmiga and Ewan McGregor attached.
“We’ve found the right cast for this picture,” said Vaines. “The addition of James is wonderful as he’s got such charisma and possesses a regal quality that he can capture. There was a real chemistry between him and Andrea.”
D’Arcy has previously appeared in “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” “Flashbacks of a Fool” and “An American Haunting.” He stars alongside Sean Bean in the upcoming “Age of Heroes” and recently wrapped helmer Nikos Tzimas’ “The Flight of the Swan.”
Vaines exec produced “The Young Victoria” and “Gangs of New York.”