Walt Disney Pictures might have originally become a powerhouse thanks to its decades of popular animated pictures, but lately, the studio’s been giving the live-action treatment to a lot of gems from within its own archives. For example, Beauty and the Beast, Cruella, and Maleficent 2 are just a few of the studio’s upcoming recycling efforts, and it seems they’re also looking outside of the Disney collection box to continue this new tradition.
The Nutcracker, a ballet which has maintained its holiday icon status since it rose to popularity in the 1960s (but was originally performed back in the late 1800s and introduced Tchaikovsky’s celebrated score), is one of the projects that Disney hopes to give some new live-action light to. The studio has some moderate experience with visual effects-augmented holiday fare, thanks to 2009’s A Christmas Carol and The Santa Clause series, but now they’re looking to make this surprisingly under-adapted story the newest thing in Christmas cinema.
Per Variety, the studio has now tapped Mackenzie Foy, a 15-year-old actress who’s best known for her work in Interstellar and the final film of The Twilight Saga, for the leading role in its The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Foy will star as Clara, the girl whose parents ask her to care for the titular toy and dreams (or perhaps not) that it comes to life to defeat the Mouse King, a villain which boasts seven heads and leads an army of mice to war against gingerbread and tin soldiers. Foy joins ballerina-turned-actress Misty Copeland, whose lead ballerina role is yet unnamed (but is suspected to be the Sugar Plum Fairy, who performs with her cavalier in the Land of Sweets as Clara’s “dream” comes to an end).
In Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Mackenzie Foy impressed as the 10-year-old version of Murph (a nomenclature nod to Murphy’s Law), a farm girl whose father is a scientist-pilot charged with saving the planet’s people. Before that, she starred opposite Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 as their half-vampire, half-human hybrid daughter, who aged rapidly from birth to adolescence just in time for for the undead factions to wage war in the Olympic Peninsula. Both of these films involved a heavy amount of visual effects, which will likely be crucial to transforming the fantastic characters and locales in The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker was originally adapted by Alexander Dumas from E.T.A. Hoffman’s 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet was choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, who premiered the show in 1892 with Tchaikovsky’s musical accouterments. Various adaptations of the ballet were shown throughout the U.S. in the 1900s, and it became synonymous with Christmastime in the ‘60s. Disney’s live-action version of the same was written by Ashleigh Powell and will be directed by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat).
The Nutcracker is currently without a release date. We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.