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Mike Newell Casts The Borgia's Holliday Grainger in Great Expectations

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 21, 2011 at 8:56AM

Brit director Mike Newell, who has a bit of a mixed track record--high: Four Weddings and a Funeral, low: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, in-between: the solid fourth installation to the Harry Potter octalogy--had a tough time finding a name actress to play the role of Estella in Great Expectations in the latest film version of the Charles Dickens classic about an orphan who eventually becomes a gentleman through the generosity of an unknown patron.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Brit director Mike Newell, who has a bit of a mixed track record--high: Four Weddings and a Funeral, low: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, in-between: the solid fourth installation to the Harry Potter octalogy--had a tough time finding a name actress to play the role of Estella in Great Expectations in the latest film version of the Charles Dickens classic about an orphan who eventually becomes a gentleman through the generosity of an unknown patron.

Newell reportedly approached Rooney Mara (The Social Network) to play the part, but the actress passed due to scheduling issues. Finally, he has cast the relatively unknown Holliday Grainger, who plays Pope Borgia's daughter on Showtime’s The Borgias. Grainger will join Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch, a mysterious convict who (spoiler alert!) winds up being revealed as the orphan Pip’s nameless benefactor, along with Helena Bonham Carter (as Mrs. Havisham) and Jeremy Irvine (as Pip) when filming begins in the London this October.


This proves yet again that Pay TV series can be career springboards for such young actors as Jamie Campbell, the male lead of Showtime series Camelot, who was cast as the male lead of Screen Gems' The Mortal Instruments. Newell’s version is produced by Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen, producers of the Oscar-nominated IRA drama The Crying Game.

This article is related to: Genres, In Production, Period, Books, Classics


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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.