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The Father may still be in the awards race — a two-time BAFTA winner last weekend and currently up for six Oscars, including best film, best actor for Anthony Hopkins and best supporting actress for Olivia Colman — but writer-director Florian Zeller has wasted no time on capitalizing on his directorial debut’s momentum to get moving on the follow-up. And he’s lined up another pair of top-level names to star.
Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern are teaming up for The Son, with See-Saw Films joining the production. Oscar winners Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (Ammonite, Lion, The King’s Speech) produce with Joanna Laurie for See-Saw, alongside Christophe Spadone (The Father) and Zeller. Film4 is co-financing again, with Cross City Films and Embankment launching international sales and with Cross City Films and CAA Media Finance co-repping U.S. rights.
Like The Father, The Son is adapted by Zeller and Christopher Hampton from one of Zeller’s own stage plays, part of a trilogy of family-centric dramas that also includes The Mother.
While The Father explored the devastating emotional impact of dementia, The Son will focus its lens on adolescent depression. The story follows Peter (Jackman) as his busy life with new partner Emma and their baby is thrown into disarray when his ex-wife, Kate (Dern), turns up with their troubled and angry teenage son, Nicholas.
Peter strives to be a better father, searching to help his son with intimate and instinctive moments of family happiness — to solve, with understanding, what Nicholas is going through. But the weight of Nicholas’ condition sets the family on a dangerous course, and they must do everything they can to maintain the bonds that hold them together.
“The Son is a deeply human story which, I believe, connects us all; I hope audiences will be profoundly moved by this family’s journey,” said Zeller. “Both Hugh and Laura naturally convey great warmth, compassion, and vulnerability … inviting our audience to embrace and feel every moment. The story is set in a vibrant and very much alive New York, an important character. The movie should make us call family and friends to tell them that they are wholly loved and not alone.”
In almost identical trajectory to its predecessor, The Son originally debuted onstage in Paris (as Le Fils) in 2018 before moving to London’s West End in 2019 to rave reviews.
“Having been lucky enough to see The Father at Sundance, we knew that Florian was a uniquely talented filmmaker,” said See-Saw’s Canning and Sherman. “The Son is a story that needs to be told — a story that rings an alarm. Through examining the human condition and our vulnerabilities, this film will strike a chord with audiences and leave an indelible mark on all who see it.”
Added Embankment’s Tim Haslam: “For the audience, The Son is visceral, authentic, compelling, and cathartic; intimately close to decisions that many families have to make. The Son makes us respond, reconnect with those around us, with the gift of understanding and awareness.”
Executive producers are Jackman, Simon Gillis for See-Saw Films, Daniel Battsek, Lauren Dark and Ollie Madden for Film4, Philippe Carcassonne for Ciné-@ and Haslam and Hugo Grumbar for Embankment.
Hugh Jackman is represented by WME and Lou Coulson Associates. Laura Dern is represented by CAA and Untitled Entertainment. Florian Zeller is represented by CAA. Christopher Hampton is represented by CAA and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.
Among a lengthy array of honors and accolades, The Father won the BAFTA awards for leading actor (for Hopkins) and best adapted screenplay (for Zeller and Hampton), the Satellite award for best adapted screenplay, and the British Independent Film Award for actor, screenplay and editing (for Yorgos Lamprinos).
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