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My Fair Lady: Mulligan vs. Knightley

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 26, 2010 at 6:15AM

But can she sing?
Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

But can she sing?

That's what I asked when Keira Knightley turned up in the first round of would-be Eliza Doolittles for Emma Thompson's rewrite of Lerner & Loewe's 1964 My Fair Lady, for which she is returning to the source material, George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. (Ever see the wonderful Wendy Hiller/Leslie Howard Pygmalion?) Duncan Kenworthy (Love Actually) and London theater icon Cameron Mackintosh are producing. It turns out that Knightley, while not a trained singer, studied with a voice coach in order to sing in the 2008 UK release The Edge of Love.

I insist that especially today, a musical leading lady must sing the role herself. (Marne Nixon did the honors for stylish charmer Audrey Hepburn.) Broadway star Julie Andrews was robbed! Of course she went on to fame and fortune in The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. But still.

So can Mulligan sing? She's the latest candidate for the role, as Thompson has confirmed. But Mulligan herself doesn't know the status of a deal. And she has a lot on her plate. With completed roles behind her in the Sundance drama The Greatest, which is finally opening April 2, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps (pushed back to September 24) and Fox Searchlight's fall film Never Let Me Go (also starring Knightley), Mulligan now has her pick of what to do next.

It's a tad early for anyone to be seriously expecting casting on movies such as My Fair Lady and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which are still in development. But assuming you had to pick your My Fair Lady, who would it be?

This article is related to: Genres, Headliners, Stuck In Love, In Production, Remake, Musical, Keira Knightley, Screenwriters

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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.