August 26: Delay in production for 'The Magician's Wife'? The writer of this feature on Geoffrey Rush indicates additional financing is being sought:
"There's No Rush" -- Four years after his Oscar, Geoffrey Rush is still wary of taking on Hollywood.
By Michael Bodey
Geoffrey Rush is in a good place right now. "It feels pretty nice," he says slowly.
Right now, that place is taking a break after a six-month period that included his third Oscar nomination (for Quills) and two more very different films, The Banger Sisters and Frida. "They both gave me a chance to say I'm going to enjoy a lovely, long winter in Melbourne," he says with relish.
And that's where he'll stay, waiting for his next film with Kate Winslet to raise its finance; waiting for his next stage role in Melbourne, next year, and possibly another in Sydney, in 2003; and talking about his upcoming films, the local thriller Lantana and the current international thriller The Tailor Of Panama.
And the break gives the Oscar-winner time to contemplate his new-found, self-described job description. "I define myself now as being a 'platform release' actor rather than a 'weekend opener', " he laughs. The moment you become a 'weekend opener', you're at the hard end of the completely brutal commercial scale."
Consequently, he says, that tends to mean you're placed in films that, well, aren't ones for the curriculum vitae. "I tend to be in those sort of films that have to wait for finance," he says.
Read the rest of the article published yesterday about Rush in The Courier-Mail.
Special thanks to Ruth of Discover Kate for emailing me the tip on the above item and to my pal Sylvia of Dougray Scott in Focus for the link to the article.
August 12: According to the writer of this Scotland on Sunday article about director Francois Girard, The Magician’s Wife has started production:
performers and directors, though, have always worked across the
disciplines, as Canadian writer-director Francois Girard, who directs
the Montreal-based Theatre de Quat’Sous’ brilliant one-man piece, Novecento,
points out. "I think it’s a very British tradition. I see your
directors moving from film to television to theatre and I admire that
very much." He started as a video artist. "I just grew up in
that environment," shrugs the 38-year-old. In the early 1980s, he
would happily switch from dance to visual arts to music theatre.
Nevertheless, the director of such acclaimed arthouse films as The Red Violin and Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould found himself becoming more and more focused on moviemaking. Indeed, he’s currently in Morocco filming his first big-budget epic, The Magician’s Wife, with Kate Winslet, Geoffrey Rush and Dominic West.
During breaks from filming, he’s been rehearsing actor Tom McCamus in the English-language version of Alessandro Baricco’s Novecento, which has its European premiere in Edinburgh. Pierre Lebeau, the Michael Gambonesque actor, who created the monologue on stage in Theatre De Quat’Sous’ tiny Montreal space, will play one performance only in French.
The actual act of shooting a movie, or staging a play, or putting together a museum installation is nothing in itself, declares Girard. What matters to him is how he communicates with audiences. "It’s amazing how lazy we get always working in film," he says. "You stop questioning your ways, your assumptions and your instincts, so working in theatre, for me, is a good way to put myself at risk, to question the way I do things, as well as the why.
"As an artist you need to confront yourself with different aspects of storytelling. It was perfect for me to be able to make my first theatre piece with a one-man show. It means I could keep it simple and really reach the essential elements of theatre because I am both attracted and seduced by the idea of someone sitting on a stage telling a very good story for 95 minutes."
Note: The commencement of production has not been confirmed, and Kate and Geoffrey have not yet reported to the set.
August 12: TMW is mentioned in a Sunday Herald interview with Kate:
One old face with whom Winslet is working is Geoffrey Rush, who is filming The Magician's Wife with her in Morocco... The Magician's Wife, based on a novel by Brian Moore, is helmed by Francois Girard, the Quebec director who has also directed a play in the Edinburgh International Festival. The film sees Winslet play the high-born wife of a French illusionist sent to quell an uprising in north Africa. Another contemporary role at last for the period-drama queen? No, the man sending Rush and his wife south in this film is none other than Napoleon. "The female roles are just stronger in period films. I read as many contemporary scripts as I do period ones." She shrugs. "But the period ones just get me every time."
July 13: Casting Kate can increase a film’s budget. I found this mention of ‘The Magician’s Wife’ in an Independent article about Canadian films:
The fact that most film-makers rely on state subsidy also has certain consequences. When big-budget Canadian movies are made, they invariably star foreign actors. Francois Girard's new adaptation of Brian Moore's, The Magician's Wife, is just the latest example. In order to secure a $20m plus budget, the producers have had to cast Kate Winslet and Geoffrey Rush. "Unfortunately, there are very few Canadian actors who have the stature to trigger that money," admits producer Daniel Iron.
July 1: Update on the rival project to ‘The Magician’s Wife’ ('Smoke & Mirrors', starring Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones). As I reported previously, Douglas had hoped to begin shooting this fall; however, the director bailed out due to professional differences. Douglas has been talking to Mimi Leder (‘Pay It Forward’, ‘Deep Impact’) about directing ‘Smoke and Mirrors’.
June 17: Thanks to George for this item from the Greek press. It’s interesting to learn how the press in different countries report Kate news:
"Mother Teresa" No, "The Magician’s Wife" Yes
Kate Winslet doesn’t want to play the Catholic nun. Indian movie production company is about to begin filming the movie about the Catholic nun's life, Mother Teresa, with Kate Winslet in the role of Mother Teresa. That’s what the people said in India, but Kate Winslet’s agent said that Kate Winslet isn’t going to play Mother Teresa.
Kate Winslet has just finished filming "Iris" a movie about the life of Iris Murdoch and next she is going to star in a film with Geoffrey Rush. The two of them have worked together in "Quills" (the movie based on the Marquis De Sade) and they are going to star in the film "The Magician’s Wife". They are going to begin filming in September.
June 15: Kate chooses Magician; the Boston Globe picked up this Reuters/Variety story:
Searchlight is in final negotiations with Jim Sheridan (''The Boxer'') to pick up his semiautobiographical project ''East of Harlem.'' Sheridan's romantic drama ''East of Harlem'' centers on a couple who emigrate from Ireland to make a life in New York. Sheridan, who penned the script, will direct and produce. Budget is said to be around $10 million. The film is tentatively set to start shooting in late July in Ireland and New York, with Samantha Morton (''Minority Report'') in negotiations to star.
While rumors circulated that Kate Winslet would star, she has since inked to appear in an adaptation of Francois Girard's ''The Magician's Wife'' with her ''Quills'' co-star Geoffrey Rush. That film shoots in August.
June 7: Mr. Showbiz mentions the film in an article about another project that Kate turned down:
"Winslet's No Nun, Rep Says"
Kate Winslet may be a polite person, a caring mother, and a great actress, but she's no Mother Teresa.
Winslet's rep is denying reports that the Brit actress has desires to portray the late nun in an upcoming Indian-produced biopic. Indian media recently reported that the Titanic star was in talks to play the Nobel Prize-winning nun, who died in 1997, in a feature film to be directed by Rajiv Nath.
But Winslet's rep told Reuters that Winslet, who has just wrapped a film about author Iris Murdoch, has no plans to do a Mother Teresa film. She may, however, appear in another film opposite Australian actor Geoffrey Rush. Winslet and Rush, who received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the Marquis de Sade, first shared billing in 'Quills'. They are now in talks to appear in 'The Magician's Wife', which is scheduled to lens in September.
June 1: A UK news site (Popcorn) claims that Kate’s agent told them she is already working on ‘The Magician’s Wife’:
Kate Winslet has re-teamed with her 'Quills' co-star Geoffrey Rush for her latest project. The pair are currently starring in 'The Magician's Wife', about a French illusionist and his wife who are sent on a special mission to Africa by Napoleon.
French troops are facing a holy war against Algeria after the people are persuaded to rise up by an African saint, thought to possess miraculous powers. It's up to the magician (Rush) to work his illusory magic to convince the saint's supporters that France is in fact the superior power.
Winslet's agent confirmed to Popcorn that she has begun work on the project in France, which is set to move over to Morocco in mid-August. The film is being directed by Canadian director Francois Girard ('The Red Violin').
June 1: I also found this related item:
"Holy Smoke! Dueling Magicians?" Does ‘Smoke & Mirrors Have a Copycat?
to the British industry trade Screen Daily, the forthcoming magician adventure
‘Smoke & Mirrors’, which is set to star Michael Douglas and Catherine
Zeta-Jones and will be directed by John McTiernan, appears to now have a rival
project to contend with. In the tradition of dueling Robin Hood films, competing
volcano flicks, and double trouble "cosmic rock hitting the earth"
epics, Screen Daily revealed that the film The Magician's Wife is in
development with Quills costars Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet attached
to star in it. Canadian firm Alliance Atlantis will bankroll the $25 million
dollar Wife, which Francois Girard (The Red Violin) will direct and that
Denis Heroux and Stephane Reichel will produce. Harrison Ford's wife Melissa
Mathison (E.T., Kundun) has penned the screenplay adaptation of the late
Brian Moore's 1999 novel. Furthermore, the trade says The Magician's Wife
is "scheduled to shoot in August in France and Morocco, (and) is structured
as a Canada/Morocco/France/UK co-production." Likewise, Smoke &
Mirrors is looking to start filming in October and perhaps even in Morocco!
Why am I making such a fuss? Here's how Screendaily describes The Magician’s Wife. The story is about "a French illusionist (Rush) who, with his wife (Winslet), is dispatched to colonial Algeria by Napoleon III to quell an uprising." And here's how Amazon.com's editorial review summarizes Moore's novel:
"It is 1856 and Emmeline Lambert watches a mechanical gatekeeper salute a departing dignitary. This nuts-and-bolts major-domo is the creation of her autocratic husband, Henri, formerly France's greatest magician, retired and hard at work on such minor contrivances. ... Her impatience with his compulsive tinkering is only one part of a troubled marriage, which seems to consist largely of fossilized accommodations and painful discretion. According to their visiting dignitary, however, the prestidigitator's country needs him. Colonel Deniau, head of Arab affairs and in many ways the real magician of the tale – or the magician's enchanter – has a mysterious project in mind. The plan is to flatter Henri into creating a series of mind-blowing tricks. According to the colonel, an Algerian marabout, or living saint, is 'said to possess miraculous powers' and might call for a holy war. If Henri outperforms the Algerian, he will seem the greater marabout and convince them that God is not on their side but France's."
Okay, now here's my synopsis of the Smoke & Mirrors screenplay, which was first written by scribes Lee and Janet Batchler five years before Moore's novel and uses the real names of the historical figures that Moore's characters are based on: "Smoke & Mirrors is loosely based on real-life events that transpired in 1856. A bloody uprising in French-controlled Algeria is being led by the enigmatic Zoras al Khatim, a terrifying fiend who appears to be a genuine sorcerer. Hoping to debunk Zoras' claims of magical powers, and thus prevent an outright civil war from exploding in Algeria, the French government calls upon the reclusive 'Father of Modern Magic', Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin (1805-71), for assistance. (Houdin's career inspired escapist Ehric Weiss to become 'Houdini'.) Assisted onstage by the lovely and fiery Colette (Zeta-Jones), his (much younger) unmarried live-in lover, Houdin (Douglas) became a living legend. But now Houdin has grown disenchanted with his occupation; he hasn't performed magic for several years and has returned to tinkering with inventions. Having lost faith in magic, Houdin sees this mission to Algeria as a way to debunk his former profession once and for all. Houdin and Colette travel to Algeria for the purpose of demonstrating first-hand to the natives how Zoras' sorcery is performed."
Now, I am not saying that The Magician's Wife is a "rip-off" of Smoke & Mirrors; both stories are based on historical events that are part of the public record so it is fair game. What I will say, though, is that lots of folks in Hollywood have known for a long time that Smoke & Mirrors was in development. Indeed, Melissa Mathison's E.T. director Steven Spielberg was under consideration to direct it and his then-company Amblin Entertainment actively pursued the purchase of the Batchlers' hot spec script back in 1994.
So my point is that isn't it plausible that Mathison and other key members of the Wife production were aware of Smoke & Mirrors when they pursued the rights to Moore's novel and began working on the film adaptation? Screen Daily's report is the first I've heard of The Magician's Wife so that's why I find all of this rather perplexing, especially since Smoke & Mirrors has been widely reported on lately in the U.S. trades. Just last week Variety reported that director John McTiernan had replaced writer Ted Henning (who has been on the project since 1997 and has penned several revisions of the Batchlers' original script) with his Thomas Crown Affair scribe Leslie Dixon.
June 1: Garth of Dark Horizons has picked up 'The Magician's Wife' news, as has Empire Magazine Online:
"Winslet's Magic Spell" -- Kate Winslet is on the verge of pairing up once more with her 'Quills' co-star Geoffrey Rush in a new movie. According to the Daily Mail, Winslet will play the wife of a French illusionist (played by Rush) in 'The Magician's Wife'. The film, which is being directed by Francois Girard, tells the story of a couple sent on a quest to Africa by Napoleon. French troops in Algeria are trying to face down the possibility of a holy war, led by an Algerian saint who is said to 'possess miraculous powers. It's Rush's task to perform a series of tricks designed to fool the saint's supporters into believing France to be the superior force. Filming will take place in Paris and Morocco.
May 31: Kate to re-team with Geoffrey Rush? I have heard Kate’s name in association with this project before, and this item I found in Screen Daily indicates she is in the negotiation process:
"Alliance Atlantis Boards Girard’s $25m Magician" by Denis Seguin
vigorous drive into larger-scale film productions by Canadian entertainment
giant Alliance Atlantis continued this week with the closure of a deal to
finance Francois Girard’s latest - the $25m historical drama The Magician’s
Wife in which Geoffrey Rush will star. Kate Winslet is negotiating to join
him, although her status is not yet confirmed.
Girard scored a huge specialised hit with his 1998 drama The Red Violin which grossed over $10m for Lions Gate Films. Rush and Winslet first teamed up in Fox Searchlight’s Quills for which he won an Oscar nomination playing the Marquis de Sade.
In The Magician’s Wife, Rush will play a French illusionist who, with his wife, is dispatched to colonial Algeria by Napoleon III to quell an uprising. Melissa Mathison, whose credits include ET - The Extra-Terrestrial, The Black Stallion and Kundun, wrote the script which is adapted from the novel by the late Brian Moore. Producers Denis Heroux and Stephane Reichel previously collaborated on an adaptation of another Moore novel - Black Robe.
Alliance Atlantis has worldwide rights to the film, excluding the US and France, and will sell rights through its international sales division while self-distributing in Canada and in the UK through its Momentum Pictures unit. ICM will handle the US sale.
The film, scheduled to shoot in August in France and Morocco, is structured as a Canada/Morocco/France/UK co-production.
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