Until last month, news surrounding Disney’s upcoming live-action retelling of the classic The Nutcracker ballet, fully titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, was rather slim beyond its initial announcement during this year’s D23 Expo in Anaheim. Now, the film is set to feature a knock-out cast with the talents of Morgan Freeman, legendary ballerina Misty Copeland, and Interstellar‘s Mackenzie Foy, just to name a few.
Now, a former pirate queen will join the ranks in a very different role. Actress Keira Knightley has officially signed on as the Sugar Plum Fairy, who only appears in the original ballet very briefly, but happens to be the title character for one of its most famous pieces of music and dance sequences.
The report comes from Variety, and explains that there’s no clear indicator of whether or not Knightley (or any other potential actress) will need to dance ballet for the sequence. Right now, only Copeland is confirmed as a dancer — she’ll be leading the film’s big dance number — so details on whether or not the full film will be a ballet are still a little vague.
Knightley may not be formally trained in ballet yet, but she’s no stranger to the scene, and is actually a huge fan. She was introduced to ballet at a young age and continues to attend shows today. She also certainly looks the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy; Knightley’s well-known lookalike, Natalie Portman, played a ballerina in the dark drama Black Swan, and Knightley’s Sabe served as a handmaiden and decoy to Portman’s Queen Amidala in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. With the new role, Knightley returns to Disney’s ranks nine years after her final portrayal of the daring and dangerous Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
In recent years Knightley’s film credits have included biopic The Imitation Game, true-life drama Everest and action adventure Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, so the Sugar Plum Fairy will be the latest in a series of diverse roles for the actress. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is being directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) with a script by newcomer Ashleigh Powell. Disney’s Sam Dickerman and Allison Erlikhman are overseeing the film, with Mark attached as producer and Lindy Goldstein as executive producer.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is currently without a release date. We’ll let you know when that changes.