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My Fair Lady: Mulligan vs. Knightley

by Anne Thompson
March 26, 2010 6:15 AM
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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?


  • james | March 31, 2010 12:41 PMReply

    no defineteley keira.

  • dawn | March 30, 2010 11:16 AMReply

    definitely Emily

  • jackie | March 30, 2010 9:39 AMReply

    ummm. knightley for sure. yes they are both equally talented actresses. but keira has proved to be talented time and time again. we still have a lot more to see from carey. just because one is nominated once for an oscar doesn't automatically make them the créme de la créme. knightley has also been nominated for an oscar-Pride and Prejudice which was also a revelation-and has proven her skill as an actress with Atonement and The Duchess, even tho she was nominated for an oscar in either films (tho I think she was robbed of an nomination). Plus keira has more of the classic audrey beauty which does play a big part in this film.

  • Krindy | March 29, 2010 11:16 AMReply

    Mulligan. Her performance in "An Education" was nothing short of a revelation. Not only do I think she is the better actress, I can absolutely see her in this role.

  • Fox Fan | March 29, 2010 3:28 AMReply

    I got an even better idea. Switch the setting to America. Cut out all the original songs and replace them with a soundtrack of new "hits" supplied entirely by recent American Idol winners. Cast George Clooney as a linguistics professor at a southern university who makes a bet with a colleague that he can take a girl out of a trailer park and pass her off as a New York socialite and dazzle the crowd at a formal dinner at the White House. And guess who plays the trailer park girl? Megan Fox!

    It can't miss! Start counting the money.

  • DavidC | March 28, 2010 8:49 AMReply

    Far more important: Was the casting for Higgins suggested by Thompson Hugh Laurie, as reported here, or, as reported elsewhere, Hugh Grant? (The former, I hope.)

  • Jake D | March 28, 2010 6:07 AMReply

    None of the above. I want Blunt.

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