Daisy Ridley In Talks To Play OPHELIA In Title Role
Two-time Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts (DIVERGENT series, THE IMPOSSIBLE) and rising superstar Daisy Ridley (STAR WARS VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS) are in final negotiations to star in OPHELIA, the highly-anticipated and dynamic reimagining of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” focusing on the untold story of Ophelia’s (Ridley) tragic romance with the prince and her relationship with his mother Queen Gertrude (Watts), it was announced today by Covert Media’s CEO Paul Hanson.
To be directed by Claire McCarthy (THE WAITING CITY), OPHELIA is based on the award winning novel by Lisa Klein and adapted for the screen by the acclaimed and award-winning writer Semi Chellas (“MAD MEN,” “THE ELEVENTH HOUR”).
“OPHELIA is brimming with youth-fueled charisma, exploring the nature of true love and beauty, and I’m so excited to bring this fresh mythic spin to Hamlet from a female perspective,” commented Claire McCarthy. “This retelling will be experienced through the eyes of Ophelia and has the kind of romance, complexity and suspense that makes this beloved story exciting to younger audiences,” she continued.
Independent feature production, financing, and distribution company Covert Media is financing the film that’s being produced by Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger (THE BROTHERS GRIMM) and Sarah Curtis (HYSTERIA). Covert is handling international rights to the film. CAA, which packaged and arranged the financing, will represent the film’s U.S. rights.
Set in the 14th Century but spoken in a contemporary voice, OPHELIA is a pulse-pounding insight into a perilous world of murder and betrayal. Ophelia takes center stage as the Queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Beautiful and intelligent, she soon captures the attention of the handsome Prince Hamlet and their forbidden love blossoms. As war brews, lust and betrayal are tearing Elsinore Castle apart and Ophelia must decide between her true love or her own life in order to protect a very dangerous secret.
“Sarah, Ehren & I have always treated this film like a jewel, since there’s something extra precious in bringing to life a treasured female icon, celebrated for centuries as an alluring figure in the shadows of Shakespeare’s most famous work, without ever really having her own story told,” said Producer Daniel Bobker. “Whether it’s for the legions of fans of romantic tragic characters, or the millions of visitors who annually seek out the classic Millais painting of Ophelia at London’s Tate Gallery, Ophelia holds a special place in the heart of the cultural canon—so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the talented female team of Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, and Claire McCarthy set to make a film with our friends at Covert Media that’ll finally shed light on a character who’s fascinated so many for so long.”
Director Claire McCarthy’s award-winning feature film THE WAITING CITY starring Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010. In her most recent work, THE TURNING, an omnibus feature, Claire directed the centerpiece segment starring Rose Byrne, who won Best Actress at the Australian Academy Awards in 2015.
Paul Hanson said: “Claire is an exciting, new directing talent. In THE WAITING CITY she beautifully brought to life rich characters through strong performances in an exotic setting. OPHELIA will tap into the same unique strengths to create a rich, thrilling and vital world inhabited by the incomparable Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts.”
Liz Kim Schwan continued: “Daisy Ridley’s fresh blend of strength and vulnerability is perfect for the title role of Ophelia. Coupled with Watt’s incredible and fearless talent, this acting combination will underpin a powerful and contemporary film that is sharp and accessible for a broad young audience.”
The project was brought to Covert Media by Vice President of Production and Development Elissa Friedman. The deal was negotiated by Covert’s Chet Devaskar, EVP of Legal and Business Affairs and Maren Olson for CAA with Jason Sloane and Mark Wetzstein of Sloane, Offer, Webber, and Dern alongside Michael Schenkman of Bloom, Hergott, Diemer, Rosenthal, Laviolette, Feldman, Schenkman & Goodman on behalf of the filmmakers.
Playing the title role of Ophelia, Daisy Ridley has become a global phenomenon after starring as Rey in JJ Abram’s STAR WARS: EPISODE VII – THE FORCE AWAKENS. With the film grossing over $1.87 billion worldwide and earning five Oscar-nominations, Ridley immediately became Hollywood’s newest it-girl. Ridley is currently filming the next installation of STAR WARS for director Rian Johnson. She’s also attached to star in Marielle Heller’s KOLMA with JJ Abrams producing for Paramount. She’s also attached to the drama THE LOST WIFE based on the book by Alyson Richman. Ridley is also an executive producer on the documentary THE EAGLE HUNSTRESS which premiered at Sundance this year and will be released by Sony Picture Classics.
Naomi Watts will next star in Destin Daniel Cretton’s THE GLASS CASTLE opposite Brie Larson for Lionsgate, and will star in and executive produce the Netflix series GYPSY. She is currently starring in DEMOLITION with Jake Gyllenhaal. She has also shot The Weinstein Company’s ABOUT RAY with Susan Sarandon and Elle Fanning, Gus Van Sant’s SEA OF TREEES with Matthew McConaughey, Colin Trevorrow’s THE BOOK OF HENRY and the psychological thriller SHUT IN. Her other recent films include Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s Academy Award winning film BIRDMAN with Michael Keaton, Noah Baumbach’s WHILE WE WERE YOUNG with Ben Stiller and Amanda Seyfried and two of the installments in the DIVERGENT franchise based on the popular best-selling novels. Watts is known for her Oscar nominated performances in Iñarritu’s 21 GRAMS with Sean Penn and in Juan Antonio Bayona’s THE IMPOSSIBLE, and her critical acclaimed performance in David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE.
Ridley is repped by CAA and by attorney Shelby Weiser at Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.
Naomi is repped by CAA and Untitled Entertainment, and by attorney Steve Warren of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush and Kaller.