Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard & Steve Coogan To Star in 'What Maisie Knew'

by Oliver Lyttelton
May 11, 2011 12:12 PM
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Scott McGehee and David Siegel are a curious directing pair. With a mere four films across over fifteen years, they've made consistently interesting work without ever quite knocking one out of the park. Their noirish racial-identity debut "Suture" is arguably their best -- championed by Steven Soderbergh, and with a terrific turn by Dennis Haysbert, it still holds up well today. Their long-awaited follow up "The Deep End" had another storming central performance, from Tilda Swinton, but had a more straightforward take on the genre, while kabbalistic spelling oddity "Bee Season," with Richard Gere, didn't really work, and the Joseph Gordon-Levitt indie "Uncertainty" never got much traction with audiences or critics.

But we're always hopeful that they'll step up a level with their next project, and the announcement of their latest film has certainly raised those hopes, considering the talent they've attracted. The Hollywood Reporter reveals from Cannes that the pair are currently prepping for "What Maisie Knew," a contemporary reworking of the Henry James novel, and they've landed the high-profile trio of Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgard.

If you're not familiar with the book (and we can't say that we were, to be honest), it dates from 1897, and tracks a young girl who spends her life being shuffled every six months between her irresponsible divorced parents, watching as they pick up new partners and then -- *spoiler* -- as their new partners fall in love with each other. The plot has been updated by writers Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright to contemporary New York, with Moore taking on the role of the mother, a rock star, and Coogan playing the father, an art dealer. "True Blood" star Skarsgard, who'll take his first plunge into the blockbuster world next summer in "Battleship," and who has a major role in Lars Von Trier's about-to-hit-Cannes "Melancholia," will play Moore's much younger second husband.

It's a neat, and still-potent premise, and hopefully the literary pedigree at work means the film has a fighting chance of getting near the level other divorce-themed classics like "Kramer Vs. Kramer" and "The Squid and the Whale." Red Crown Productions, who are behind the upcoming Vera Farmiga/David Duchovny indie "Goats," are producing, and filming's expected to get underway in August, before Moore gets villainous opposite Jeff Bridges and Sam Clafin in "The Seventh Son."

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