Screenwriter Michael Hirst has a thing for romanticizing the European monarchy of yore, as evidenced by his screenplays for Shekhar Kapur’s Best Picture-nominated Elizabeth and its sequel, The Golden Age; not to mention, Hirst is also the creator of Showtime’s The Tudors (a show that transformed King Henry VIII from a lustful, bloated royalty into, well, someone who looks like Jonathan Rhys Meyers).
There’s little reason to doubt that Hirst’s new script, Mary Queen of Scots, takes a similar “exaggerated for dramatic effect” approach to the life of its namesake, queen regnant Mary Stuart (often confused with her cousin, Queen “Bloody” Mary I). Hirst’s new project is being backed by Working Title Films, the same production house that behind his previous historical dramas.
18-year old Oscar-nominee Saorise Ronan is attached to headline Mary Queen of Scots, according to the latest report from Deadline. Working Title heads Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are currently on the prowl for a director, with the hope of getting production underway next year (possibly, with an Awards Season 2013 release in mind).
Ronan burst onto arthouse moviegoers’ radars with her performance in Atonement, with the actress (13, at the time) delivering an unnerving performance as a young girl whose innocence is shattered by her own naive jealousy, leading her to commit a terrible act. She went on to portray captivating protagonists whose youthful spirit allow them to overcome the horrifying realities of the world about them, in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Peter Weir’s The Way Back, before tackling the role of a trained (teenage) assassin in Joe Wright’s Hanna. Ronan plays a young woman whose consciousness is invaded by an extraterrestrial parasite in next year’s The Host (which was previewed at Comic-Con last month) and appears as a vampire in the upcoming Byzantium.
That’s all to say, Ronan is an excellent choice for the complex role of Mary Queen of Scots, considering the psychologically-scarring events that shaped her outlook on life – including, being crowned Queen of Scotland when she was one, enduring multiple marriages that ended in murder (one of which her lover-turned-third husband was accused of orchestrating), and later abdication of her throne before fleeing to England to seek refuge from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. Samantha Morton (John Carter) portrayed the older version of Mary in Golden Age, who spent the last 18 years of her life in confinement – before being executed for her asserted role in an assassination attempt against Elizabeth.
Hirst isn’t struggling to find juicy melodramatic material for his Mary Queen of Scots screenplay, what with all the treachery, backstabbing, hidden love affairs, political intrigue, and bloodshed during the first 20 years of Mary’s life (given Ronan’s age, that will presumably be the focus of the film). There’s definitely potential for some entertaining, royals-gone-bad shenanigans with this project.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of Mary Queen of Scots as the story develops.