Colin Firth Is The Top Choice To Headline ‘My Fair Lady’ Remake

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 24th, 2013 at 10:08 am,

No one’s quite as delightfully British as Colin Firth, and the 50-year-old star looks to at last snag an acting Oscar for his turn in The King’s Speech at this month’s Academy Awards ceremony. It comes as little surprise then that Sony reportedly wants him to headline its long in development remake of the classic musical, My Fair Lady.

Keira Knightley has previously been rumored to reunite with her Atonement and Pride and Prejudice director Joe Wright for the project, but now it seems that Carey Mulligan will play the new incarnation of Miss Eliza Doolittle onscreen instead, under the guidance of John Madden (Shakespeare in Love).

The Daily Mail claims that Sony originally preferred Hugh Grant over Firth to play the misogynistic Professor Henry Higgins in a redo of My Fair Lady, but has turned its eye towards the latter now. While Grant may be the more fitting of the two former Bridget Jones’s Diary leading men to follow in the footsteps of Rex Harrison and portray Mr. Higgins on film, there’s just something innately likable about Firth – and his version of the professor would surely be more of a charismatic ass for it.

Firth has a history of being a respected leading man of the silver screen, but his engagingly understated turn in 2009′s A Single Man was only the first to land him some major nominations. While she’s only half his age, Mulligan too popped up for the first time on the Academy’s radar in 2009 with An Education, and kept up the good work in Never Let Me Go last year as well.

The actress is currently attached to star in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which may or may not be getting underway in the relatively near future. My Fair Lady has not yet been officially greenlit, and filming isn’t expected to begin in London until May of 2012 anyway, so Mulligan’s involvement is certainly still possible.

Carey Mulligan is Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby Colin Firth Is The Top Choice To Headline My Fair Lady Remake

Carey Mulligan in ‘An Education’.

Fellow English thespian Emma Thompson won an Oscar for scripting Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility adaptation, and her screenplay for the My Fair Lady remake utilizes parts of George Bernard Shaw’s preface and sequel to the play “Pygmalion.” That work itself inspired the original Broadway version of My Fair Lady, which was then turned into a cinematic musical extravaganza by George Cukor back in 1964.

Now, there’s no real reason for a remake of My Fair Lady to exist. Cukor’s film won eight Academy Awards, including that for Best Picture, and remains a treasured staple of its genre amongst musical theater enthusiasts alike. If Sony really is determined to push ahead with this project, then at least they’re eying proper talents like Firth and Mulligan to star – and John Madden is arguably a director who knows how to create lovely period dramas. So it has that going in its favor.

On the other hand – consider the Annie remake, with Willow Smith playing the titular orphan and Jay-Z reworking the show’s classic tunes. If Hollywood really feels the need to press ahead with remakes of these musicals, is it better to more clearly distinguish them from the original (a la Annie) or not stray too far from the original on a surface level, which is what My Fair Lady looks to do?

Or is it all blasphemy regardless?

Everyone has an opinion, so feel free to share yours in the comments section.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to keep you posted about the development of My Fair Lady and any other musical remakes in the works.

Source: The Daily Mail

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  1. I love the grand movie musicals from this time period. If these remakes don’t stink then I’m ok with it.

  2. I don’t quite know where I stand on this particular remake.

    The “Annie” project is, in my opinion, a no go from the start. Anyone pretentious and idiotic enough to want to “modernize” the music of a period piece, is, well.. an idiot. I can already hear the hip-hop version of “It’s a hard knock life”, and maybe a rapped version of “Tomorrow”?

    However, something like “My Fair Lady”, well, it’s a gorgeous film to start with. I would guess that that is my only real objection to it. Will the main actress actually do her own singing? Is she ABLE to sing it? Will they do the unforgivable and cut the musical down to a “more manageable length” as they did with the horrid “Sweeney Todd”?

    People happily go to see different productions of the classic musicals, so I don’t see why there can’t be multiple respectful versions of those same in film-format.

    The key word is “respectful”

    If they remain true to the stage version (which I am fully aware, the original film is not completely), or as closely true to it as possible, then I don’t see any reason not to do it.

    On the other hand, there are SO many musicals that have NOT been filmed, why not simply do one of those? Sondheim has a slew of them (“Into The Woods” comes to mind as a particularly adaptable one), there are more Rogers and Hammersteins, Rogers and Harts, etc… It’s not like Broadway is a vacuum that barely contains repertoire. They could even go the daring route and make a film out of some of teh edgier modern shows, like “Avenue Q”.

    There are countless actors with wonderful voices. As long as they are not choosing main actors for their “Star potential” instead of for their singing voices.

  3. Joe Wright is thankfully not attached to My Fair Lady now. It is John Madden ( who at one stage resigned from the production as he refused to do it if Hugh Grant got the part). He and everyone else apart from Sony wanted Colin Firth, and now Sony are saying that if CF will not do it, then the film won’t be made.

    • @ Lizzie

      Right you are, Lizzie – the article’s been updated accordingly. :-)

  4. Another day, another remake.

    So what do the Hollywood bean counters do when they’ve milked all the remakes and already made remakes of remakes? I’m sure it’s going to happen within the next month or two.

  5. Never seen “My Fair Lady” despite my love of musicals, but in the original, did the two leads have that much of an age difference?

    • in both the play and in the movie.
      he was a professor (not the kind of thing one assumed of a young man),
      while she was a young flower vendor.

      There is a young love interest (Freddy) for Eliza, which would make it too much of a “love triangle” were the professor to be a young man as well.

  6. Usually I’d be excited for a movie with such talent attached to it but as it has said in the article, while this movie has a lot going for it, it’s strongly unneeded. There’s simply no reason why it should even exist in the first place when the original stands up to it’s quality even today.

    That being said, Carey Mulligan is positively gorgeous and a far better choice than Keira Knightley. Thank God they didn’t go with that casting.

  7. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to!
    That said, casting Colin Firth is a major plus. However, Carey Mulligan is not.
    There is just something about her, IMHO, (and not taking anything away from her talents) that doesn’t seem to be feel right in pairing the two of them together; nothing to do with age, etc. Look at the pictures of Audrey Hepburn; someone resembling that entire elan that Ms. Mulligan simply doesn’t possess.

  8. If indeed this has to be re-done….Mr. Firth, with out a doubt can take Rex Harrison’s part and be just as dashing and articulate. ( IMHO)

  9. Can Mulligan sing? And I don’t mean just hold a tune which many non-singers can do, including the legendary Audrey Hepburn, who was dubbed by Marni Nixon who also did Natalie Wood’s Maria in West Side Story. But Eliza has to be able to really sing, and act, as Julie Andrews did so brilliantly in the original Broadway production. Unless Mulligan has a real voice and be able to hit the top notes, I’m for Anne Hathaway who can both truly sing and act. Colin Firth, while not a singer, can sing a melody on pitch. Besides, the Higgins character was written by Loerner & Lowe specifically to ‘talk-sing.’ Firth would be absolutely brilliant in the role, plus bring heart-throb charisma to it. I can’t believe how anyone could have seriously considered Hugh Grant, who has his strengths but not as Higgins. Geoffrey Rush should play Eliza’s Dad, and Julie Andrews should play Mrs. Higgins, so she can finally have a place in a film version of this classic. But Maggie Smith, Judi Dench or Angela Lansbury would also be great as Henry’s Mum.

  10. I adore CF but really. He said in his interviews about Mamma Mia “he was scared to death on the singing part and “Last Summer” is an easy song compared to I’ve Grown Accustom to her face” Give this beautiful role to someone like G Butler or someone ruff around the corner. HHiggins was not a gentleman he was crude and Rex Harrison played that part. I personally would not touch this movie. It is like messing with GWTW. Also what is this with Hollywood picking musical scores with non-singing actors ie: Sweeney Todd, Phantom (Christine), Nine, Mamma Mia and even Evita. We have to sit through 3 hours of horrible singing. For those of us who love Broadway musicals please do your best to please us (the devoted musical listeners) We are the ones who buy the DVD/CD because we love the songs and appreciate the music. I just started laughing when HBC started singing in Sweeney Todd after seeing AL in the original. You could have done better SS and TB. Or do the old trick and voice over.

  11. Both of these look good – especially if Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan can be persuaded to take the parts. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the film Annie so think it would be great to have something modern and cool that I could just love!

    Keep us up-to-date with news on these 2 please :)

  12. I loved the original with

  13. It is hard to believe that anyone would consider Hugh Grant for the Higgins role!! Colin Firth would be great in this role he has class…is very good looking…articulate and actually has a fairly nice singing voice. Of course Higgins doesn”t really have to sing, his songs are half talking anyhow. But this might be hard to re-make the original with Harrison is a gem!! The none musical version “pygmalion” could more easily be re-made. However looking forward to whichever is done if Firth plays the role…He is really an excellent performaer and I like the idea of Jeffrey Rush as Elizas father!! that would be great!!Julie Andrews or Judy Dench or even Helen Mirren as Higgins mother would be great!! What a cast!

  14. Colin Firth as Professor H. Higgins in My Fair Lady? PERFECT!!!I’m sure he won’t disappoint, so make it happen!

    One of a kind home movie footage taken from behind the scenes, of the opening scene of “My Fair Lady”
    Stills from the footage as well as the actual reel of footage itself can be seen on page 305 of Juliens Catalog
    which you can get to by going here