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In the Works: Stephen Frears to Direct 'Philomena,' Starring Coogan and Dench

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 1, 2012 at 4:23PM

Stephen Frears has signed on to direct the Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope-penned "Philomena," a mother-son drama starring Coogan and Judi Dench. The script is an adaptation of Martin Sixsmith's "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee," and follows the true story of Sixsmith's wife's search for the son she gave up for adoption.
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Philomena 2

Stephen Frears has signed on to direct the Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope-penned "Philomena," a mother-son drama starring Coogan and Judi Dench. The script is an adaptation of Martin Sixsmith's "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee," and follows the true story of Sixsmith's wife's search for the son she gave up for adoption.

Dench will star as Lee, with Coogan playing her grown-up son, Michael, a closeted gay lawyer and Republican politician in 1980s Washington D.C. Michael has similarly been looking for his birth mother, but with tragic information to relay: He's contracted AIDS.

Despite the bleak subject matter, Frears describes the film as a "comic tragedy or a tragic comedy." With Coogan on board, that sounds about right. Perhaps Michael will show his mum a spot-on Michael Caine impression?

The film begins shooting next month in the U.K. and D.C.

This article is related to: Stephen Frears, Steve Coogan, Judi Dench, News, In The Works


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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.