Bill Nighy, 'Sex Education' Star Aimee Lou Wood Team for Kurosawa Adaptation 'Living'

Bill Nighy Getty H 2017
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Bill Nighy

Kazuo Ishiguro has written the screenplay, adapted from the 1952 classic 'Ikiru,' with 'Carol' producer Number 9 Films behind the project and Rocket Science shopping at the AFM.

BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Bill Nighy is set to take the lead in Living, an English-language adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's 1952 Japanese classic Ikiru from Nobel and Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of The Day and Never Let Me Go.

Oliver Hermanus (Moffie, The Endless River) will direct the feature, heading to next month's American Film Market (AFM) with Rocket Science. Alongside Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, best known for playing Aimee Gibbs in Netflix's hit series Sex Education and soon to be seen alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy in the biopic Louis Wain for Amazon, will also star.

Shifting the story to 1952 London, Living will follow William, a veteran civil servant who has become a small cog in the bureaucracy of rebuilding post-World War II England. As endless paperwork piles up on his desk, he learns he has a fatal illness. Thus begins his quest to find some meaning to his seemingly monotonous life before it slips away.

He first attempts, with limited success, to throw himself into debauchery during a wild night in Brighton in the company of a bohemian writer he befriends there. Arriving back in London, he then ignores family and work responsibilities for days on end. But soon he becomes intrigued by Margaret, a young co-worker in his office, who appears to exemplify exactly what life and living is — and what may so far have passed him by. As their friendship grows, she — inadvertently — shows him a way to face down his mortality: how to harness his years of experience and dedication into a final supreme effort to push through, against all odds, a modest, much-delayed project for children in a poor district of East London.

BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated duo Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen are set to produce Living for Number 9 Films, the acclaimed banner behind the likes of Carol, Colette, Youth and upcoming drama Mothering Sunday. Oscar-nominated Fiona Crombie (Cruella, The Favourite, The King, Mary Magdalene, Macbeth) has come on board as Production Designer. Living will shoot on location in the U.K. next spring.

Rocket Science is handling sales and will introduced the film at the AFM. The film has been developed with and will be funded by Film4 and Ingenious Media, in association with Kurosawa Productions, executive producer Ko Kurosawa.

"The inner story suggests that it’s the responsibility of each of us to bring meaning and satisfaction to our life," said Ishiguro. "That even against the odds, we should try to find a way to be proud of, and happy with, the lives we lead. I believe this story can speak to the many of us obliged to spend long hours each day anchored to desks and screens — all the more so in this era of COVID — struggling to see what our individual contributions can possibly amount to within the broader picture."

Said Woolley and Karlsen: "The notion of teaming Japan’s greatest internationally renowned filmmaker, Kurosawa, with their greatest living author, Ishiguro, coupled with the tremendously talented Oliver Hermanus, is a producer’s dream. This is a film about how a small act can become a momentous event, and Bill Nighy’s charm, wit and gravitas is perfect to spearhead the film, culminating in a tiny but epic gesture, which seems not only apt but crucially important for our current turbulent times."