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Maxine Peake — the British stage and screen star whose credits includes The Theory of Everything, Silk and recent acclaimed hard-hitting BBC series Three Girls — has joined the ensemble cast of Mike Leigh’s upcoming period drama Peterloo, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The film, which is currently shooting, tells the story of a pivotal moment in U.K. history, when the British army attacked a large group of protestors in Manchester who had gathered to demand parliamentary reform amid a period of severe economic depression. Fifteen people were killed and 400-500 were injured after cavalry charged the crowd with their sabres drawn. The shockwaves were felt across the country, and one of the effects was the creation of The Guardian newspaper (then The Manchester Guardian), which was born out of the immediate crackdown on radicalism.
Peake, from Manchester herself, seems a perfect fit for the film, having spoken at several events commemorating the Peterloo massacre and long been a campaigner for British working-class history. In 2013, as part of the Manchester International Festival, she recited Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem The Mask of Anarchy, written about Peterloo.
Amazon Studios is backing the project, having come aboard for North American rights in Cannes last year, with other financing from Film4, the BFI and Lipsync. Cornerstone Films is handling international sales.
Leigh — who is remaining tight-lipped on Peterloo‘s other castmembers — is reuniting on his 21st feature film (the follow-up to the Oscar contender Mr. Turner) with producer Georgina Lowe, cinematographer Dick Pope, production designer Suzy Davies, costume designer Jacqueline Durran, hair and makeup artist Christine Blundell, editor Jon Gregory and composer Gary Yershon. Gail Egan is exec producing.
Shooting on Peterloo is set to continue until late summer.
Peake is also set to appear in upcoming films Funny Cow alongside Paddy Considine, and Fanny Lye Deliver’d with Freddie Fox.
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