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Guardians of the Galaxy and The Night Manager actress Elizabeth Debicki will play the writer Virginia Woolf in Vita & Virginia, the upcoming period drama based on the love letters between Woolf and 1920s socialite Vita Sackville-West.
Gemma Arterton is attached to play Vita in the drama, the sophomore feature from British director Chanya Button (Burn, Burn, Burn).
Italian actress Isabella Rossellini has also joined the cast of the film, which is set to begin principle photography in Ireland in September. Rupert Penry-Jones and Peter Ferdinando co-star.
The film is an adaptation of the award-winning play by actress and writer Eileen Atkins. Atkins and Button co-wrote the script to Vita & Virginia, which tells the true story of socialite Vita (Arterton) and literary icon Virginia (Debicki), who cross paths in 1920s London. Vita decides to make Virginia her lover, no matter the cost. Their affair has been cited as a primary inspiration for Woolf’s gender-bending classic Orlando. Atkins also wrote the screenplay to Marleen Gorris‘ 1997 adaptation of Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf’s most acclaimed novel, which starred Vanessa Redgrave and Natascha McElhone.
“Vita & Virginia will be a fresh, provocative study of creativity, passion, sex and sexuality; and it offers an exciting opportunity to bring the story behind the creation of Orlando, one of Virginia Woolf’s greatest works to life in a bold, vivid, contemporary way,” said director Button in a statement. “With my lifelong passion for Woolf’s writing, it is a great privilege to be working with such brilliant women as Gemma and Elizabeth, to bring the lives of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf to the screen.”
Australian Debicki is fresh off supporting roles in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and will next be seen in the new Cloverfield and alongside Viola Davis and Liam Neeson in Steve McQueen’s heist thriller Widows. Arterton recently starred in Lone Scherfig’s acclaimed WW2 comedy Their Finest and appears alongside Dominic Cooper in upcoming British drama The Escape.
In their first major British acquisition, newcomer distributor Thunderbird Releasing has picked up all U.K. rights for the film. Thunderbird Releasing’s Managing Director Edward Fletcher negotiated the deal with George Hamilton of Protagonist Pictures, who are handling world sales. The film has already presold to multiple territories, including Germany, Poland and Australia/New Zealand.
“Vita & Virginia is the true story of two of the most fascinating and progressive women of their time, who end up in the throes of a passionate affair which shapes their work and changes their lives forever,” said Vanessa Saal, managing director of sales and distribution at Protagonist.
Vita & Virginia is produced by Evangelo Kioussis for Mirror Productions and Katie Holly for Blinder Films. Executive producers are Simon Baxter, Christopher Figg, Nicolas Sampson, Norman Merry, Dave Bishop and Gemma Arterton.
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