Elizabeth Debicki and Isabella Rossellini have joined the cast of Virginia Woolf biopic “Vita & Virginia,” Protagonist Pictures CEO Dave Bishop said Wednesday. The finance, production and sales company has also closed a deal with distributor Thunderbird Releasing to take all U.K. rights on the film.
“The Night Manager” star Debicki, who recently appeared in James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” will play Woolf opposite Gemma Arterton in the period drama, which tells the true story of the unconventional love affair between the groundbreaking feminist author and socialite Vita Sackville-West (Arterton). Rossellini’s involvement had not been previously announced.
“‘Vita & Virginia’ is the true story of two of the most fascinating and progressive women of their time, who end up in the throes of a passionate affair which shapes their work and changes their lives forever,” said Vanessa Saal, managing director of sales and distribution for Protagonist.
Set in 1920s London, “Vita & Virginia” is the sophomore feature of director Chanya Button, following 2015 comedy drama “Burn Burn Burn.” It is written by Button and Eileen Atkins, based on the veteran actress’ play, which was first performed in London in October 1993 and off Broadway in November 1994 and was based on the love letters between Sackville-West and Woolf.
Button describes the film as “a fresh, provocative study of creativity, passion, sex and sexuality.” The film is scheduled to begin production on location in Ireland in September. Rupert Penry-Jones and Peter Ferdinando also star.
“Vita & Virginia” is produced by Evangelo Kioussis for Mirror Productions and Katie Holly for Blinder Films. Simon Baxter, Christopher Figg, Nicolas Sampson, Norman Merry, Bishop and Arterton will serve as executive producers. The Irish Film Board, Piccadilly Pictures, Sampsonic Media and Lipsync Productions provided funding.
The U.K. deal with Thunderbird, which marks the first major British acquisition for the U.K. distributor, was negotiated by George Hamilton for Protagonist and managing director Edward Fletcher for Thunderbird.
Protagonist is handling worldwide rights, and has also secured deals for the film in Germany (NFP); Australia and New Zealand (Transmission Films); Czech Republic and Slovakia (Cinemart); Greece (Seven Films); Israel (Forum Films); Poland (M2); Portugal (Lusumundo); the former Yugoslavia (MCF); and Hong Kong (Edko).
French actress Eva Green had originally been announced to play Woolf in the biopic back in February. Nicole Kidman won an Academy Award for best actress in 2002 for playing Woolf in Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours.”
Debicki is repped by CAA. Rossellini is repped by APA.