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AFM News EXCLUSIVE: Keira Knightley To Star In Effie Gray Biopic Untouched

Thompson on Hollywood By Liza Foreman | Thompson on Hollywood November 7, 2011 at 10:38AM

Keira Knightley is in talks to play the role of artists’ muse Effie Gray in period drama Untouched for Brazilian director Andrucha Waddington (House of Sand), reports Liza Foreman.
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Effie Gray, portrait
Portrait of Effie Gray by her husband, Millais

Keira Knightley is in talks to play the role of artists’ muse Effie Gray in period drama Untouched for Brazilian director Andrucha Waddington (House of Sand), reports Liza Foreman.

The project, which is being pre-sold at the AFM by Ealing Metro International from their new headquarters in the Loews Hotel’s fitness studio, follows the real-life love affair between this beautiful young woman, trapped in a “loveless,” unconsummated marriage to Brit art critic John Ruskin, and his protege, pre-Raphelite painter John Everett Millais. Knightley stars as a woman in the middle of another mentor-protege triangle in David Cronenberg’s upcoming A Dangerous Method (November 23), between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). 

The film is based on a script by Aleksandra Crapanzano. The producers are Barnaby Thompson (Easy Virtue), Lucia Seabra (The Last Summer of La Boyita), Maria Teresa Arida (Arbitrage) and Lauren Versel (Vamps). The project is part of Ealing Metro’s AFM slate which also includes the musical romantic comedy Goddess and The Account, an action thriller to be directed by Pete Travis.

A second film on the subject, written by Emma Thompson and her husband Greg Wise, was being sold at the market last year and was due to go into production mid-October with Dakota Fanning playing Effie. Some buyers were shown that promo at the AFM this year on an iPad.

Gray was born in Scotland and lived in Bowerswell, the house where Ruskin’s grandfather had killed himself.  She was acquainted with Ruskin’s family from a young age. Ruskin wrote the fantasy novel, The King of Golden River for her when she was only twelve years old.  Although he is said to have idolized her from a young age, he failed to consummate his marriage to her. The famous Victorian love triangle has been dramatized a number of times. Thompson’s project was held up by the fact that a playwright claimed that her script copied his play. Ealing is currently completing casting on the film.

[Portrait of Gray by her husband Millais.]

This article is related to: AFM , Keira Knightley, Biopics, Period, Drama, In The Works, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.