×

Judi Dench to Star in Stephen Frears’ ‘Victoria and Abdul’ for Working Title

Judi Dench will star as Queen Victoria and Stephen Frears will direct Working Title Films’ “Victoria and Abdul,” to which Focus Features will hold worldwide rights.

The movie is slated to go into production this year for a 2017 release. Focus will release the movie in the U.S., and Universal Pictures Intl. will distribute the film around the world. “Victoria and Abdul” is being co-financed by Focus in association with BBC Films.

The screenplay is by Lee Hall, based on Shrabani Basu’s book “Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant.” Hall was Oscar nominated for “Billy Elliot.”

“Victoria and Abdul” was developed by Beeban Kidron and Hall at Cross Street Films with BBC Films, and is being produced by Kidron, Tracey Seaward (“The Queen”), and Working Title’s co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Bevan and Fellner have produced several Working Title movies for Focus release, including the best picture Oscar nominees “Atonement” and “The Theory of Everything.”

According to the press announcement of “Victoria and “Abdul,” the film tells “the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim, a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.”

Dench will be playing Queen Victoria for a second time, having been Oscar-nominated for her previous portrayal in “Mrs. Brown.” She won an Academy Award for portraying Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love,” and has also received Oscar nominations for her performances in “Chocolat,” “Iris,” Frears’ “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” “Notes on a Scandal” and Frears’ “Philomena,” also a best picture Oscar nominee.

Working Title’s upcoming slate includes “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” directed by Sharon Maguire and starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey; “The Snowman,” directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson and Val Kilmer; and “Baby Driver,” directed by Edgar Wright and starring Jon Hamm, Lily James, Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx.

More Film

  • Sean AstinCritics' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los

    Film News Roundup: Sean Astin Cast in 'Mayfields Game,' 'Charming the Hearts of Men'

    In today’s film news roundup, Sean Astin gets two roles, two “Peanuts” movies are set for release, “One Last Night” gets distribution and Brian De Palma gets honored. CASTINGS Sean Astin has been cast in a pair of upcoming feature films: “Mayfield’s Game” opposite Mira Sorvino and “Charming The Hearts of Men” opposite Kelsey Grammer. Astin [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Justin Baldoni

    Justin Baldoni Developing 'It Ends With Us' Romance Movie

    “Jane the Virgin” Star Justin Baldoni is adapting Colleen Hoover’s romance novel “It Ends With Us” for film through his Wayfarer Entertainment company. Baldoni announced Monday that he had optioned the project on his Instagram account. “It Ends With Us” first published in 2016 and follows a young woman through the tumultuous stages of an [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content