By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 18, 2011 at 1:20AM
Carey Mulligan, Felicity Jones, Abbie Cornish & Imogen Poots In Contention For Female Lead
His Lord Voldemort might *spoiler* have finally met his end this weekend in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two," but Ralph Fiennes isn't hanging about: he's playing an unknown role in Sam Mendes' "Bond 23," and he's in rehearsal to play Prospero in "The Tempest" on stage in London. But the thespian isn't just sticking to acting: his directorial debut, "Coriolanus," picked up strong reviews at the Berlin Film Festival at the start of the year, and will hit theaters in the fall, and the actor's now planning another venture behind the camera that will shoot next year.
Baz Bamigboye reveals that Fiennes will direct "The Invisible Woman," an adaptation of Claire Tomalin's non-fiction work about the love story between Charles Dickens and actress Ellen Ternan; a 13-year affair that caused Dickens, who was over twice the age of 'Nelly,' to leave his wife. The film, written by the very-hot-right-now Abi Morgan ("The Iron Lady," "Shame"), has been in development at BBC Films for some time, but Fiennes is the first director to be publicly attached, and he intends to shoot the film after he wraps, ironically, on Mike Newell's version of Dickens' "Great Expectations," in which he'll play the convict Magwich.
Daniel Day-Lewis and Ben Whishaw were reported to be being courted to play Dickens last year, while Fiennes considered playing the novelist himself once he came on board, but has now ruled that out: as yet, there's no word on who his Dickens will be. As for Nelly, Fiennes is meeting most of the current crop of young talent, with Carey Mulligan, Imogen Poots, Abbie Cornish and Felicity Jones all said to be on his list, although Bamigboye stresses that no offers have been made yet. All four are terrific actresses, so things are looking good on that front, no matter who Fiennes ultimately chooses.
With two competing versions of "Great Expectations" on the way, Dickens is very much in the zeitgeist, and if the reviews for "Coriolanus" are to be believed, Fiennes is as talented behind the camera as he is in front of it, so we're certainly looking forward to seeing how it turns out: if it's even close to the last major literary biopic, Jane Campion's terrific "Bright Star," it'll be good news for everyone. "The Invisible Woman" won't hit theaters until 2013 at the earliest, but "Coriolanus" will be put out by The Weinstein Company on December 2nd.