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Who Should Play Garbo and Dietrich?

by Anne Thompson
April 18, 2014 9:11 PM
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Marlene Dietrich in 'The Aviator'
Greta Garbo

So it looks like indie-minded producer Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures, who backed upcoming Cannes entry "Foxcatcher" as well as such Oscar contenders as "The Master," "American Hustle" and "Her," is now developing her first TV series to be sold to the networks. 

Set during Hollywood's Golden Age, the drama focuses on Nordic beauties Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, who were known for their androgynous mystery. “The Swedish Sphinx” and “The Blonde Venus” could be both glamorous and alluring--and get away with wearing pants. Thus, much like one-time roommates Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, rumors swirled surrounded them. 

Based at MGM, Greta Garbo ("Grand Hotel," "Ninotchka," "Queen Christina") never starred in a movie with Paramount's reigning diva Dietrich ("Shanghai Express," "Morocco," "Catherine the Great"), and the two so-called studio rivals claimed to have never met. (Back in Europe, they reportedly each enjoyed an affair with elegant aristocrat Mercedes de Acosta.) But that didn't stop people from gossiping about them. And photographer Edward Steichen once mashed up some pictures of them together for Vanity Fair.

Annapurna is financing with executive producers Angela Robinson and Alex Kondracke ("Hung" and "The L Word") a period drama focused on the young Swedish actress and German star--and the people in their lives, including Cary Grant, John Gilbert, Tallulah Bankhead, Alla Nazimova, Barbara Stanwyck and John Wayne. 

So assuming this comes to pass, who should play these stunning women? Who could pull it off, accent and all? Garbo was tall, slim, and athletic with a deep Swedish-accented voice, while the more diminutive Dietrich had gorgeous gams and sang like an angel with a rich German accent. Who has the chops? Could an American actress pull a Meryl Streep? I'd wager that Michelle Williams, Kirsten Dunst or Jessica Chastain could pull off Dietrich. And for Garbo, how about Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), Dutch actress Carice van Houten ("Game of Thrones") or Swedish actress Alicia Vikander? Any other ideas? 


  • Billie Cassin | April 23, 2014 2:10 PMReply

    Please, Anne! Mercedes D'Acosta claimed to have slept with every actress in Hollywood, including Lassie (a transgender performer, btw). And that Cary Grant/Randolph Scott story has been debunked for decades -- just something that Kenneth Anger made up for "Hollywood Babylon," based on a couple of publicity stills. I hate to see you compromising your credibility by lending authority to such bilge.

  • Kate | April 21, 2014 2:12 PMReply

    Maggie Gyllenhaal

  • cadavra | April 20, 2014 8:12 PMReply

    This is pointless. It's Megan Ellison. We already know who it'll be: Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams.

  • Anonymous also | April 19, 2014 11:25 AMReply

    gaby christian & mandy musgrave of course, isn't that what Angela promised them....

  • Anonymous | April 19, 2014 4:39 AMReply

    This should not be happening... Dietrich and Garbo should be totally "untouchable" - this project just sounds trashy. Also, it's TV!? No. Garbo would be mortified by this news.

  • Ben p | April 19, 2014 12:47 AMReply

    "A new project financed by gay billionaire scion Megan Ellison"

    So is someone's sexuality part of their title now? Will Indiewire include the term 'straight' for every heterosexual mentioned from now on?

  • Shelia | April 19, 2014 3:52 AM

    She isn't gay, she's bi. Indiewire had an article on this earlier on their other blog /bent - she was on OUT's Power 50 this week so that's why they were talking about it. But I agree, if you're going to mention it, say why don't just throw it in without saying why it's relevant.

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