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Gary Oldman in Talks to Play Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’

Gary Oldman is in talks to play British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Working Title’s World War II drama “Darkest Hour.”

Joe Wright is directing “Darkest Hour,” derived from Churchill’s phrase to describe the period of World War II between the fall of France in June 1940 and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union a year later in 1941, when the British Empire stood alone against Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers in Europe. During that period, the United Kingdom was under threat of invasion and bombardment with over 1,500 civilians dying in London alone in a single night from Lufwaffe bombing raids on May 10, 1941.

Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, and was under pressure to appease Germany. Three weeks after taking office, a quickly assembled British fleet of more than 800 boats saved more than 335,000 soldiers who had been cut off by the German army at Dunkirk on the French coast. As the rescue was concluding, Churchill told Parliament, “We shall fight on beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

Anthony McCarten, who received Oscar nominations for writing and producing Working Title’s “The Theory Of Everything,” is the screenwriter and producer on “Darkest Hour.” Lisa Bruce and Working Title co-chiefs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are also producing.

Production is planned for July. The London-born Oldman previously worked with Working Title, portraying George Smiley in the adaptation of John Le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” for which he received a best actor Academy Award nomination.

Oldman stars in Liongate’s “Criminal” opposite Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Costner. The thriller opens Friday.

Oldman is repped by Douglas Urbanski’s Douglas Management Group, APA and Special Artists Agency. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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