Elle Fanning to Star as Mary Shelley in 'A Storm in the Stars' (Exclusive)

David Needleman
Elle Fanning

Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female director out of Saudi Arabia, is helming the romantic period drama.

Elle Fanning, coming off of a starring turn opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, has come aboard to star in A Storm in the Stars, a period romantic drama being directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour.

Amy Baer is producing the indie via her Gidden Media banner with Joannie Burstein and Rebecca Miller exec producing.

Storm, written by Emma Jensen, tells the story of the passionate love affair between dangerously charismatic poet Percy Shelley and 17-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft, who would a year later write Frankenstein as Mary Shelley. (Fanning will play the budding writer.)

The script aims to tell of the tumult of first love of a young woman out of step with her time (Mary was well-educated and came from a family of intellectuals) who wrote one of the first pieces of literary genre fiction in modern times.

The project is seen as a perfect fit for Al-Mansour, who is the first female director out of Saudi Arabia and whose breakthrough film, Wadjda, tackled similar themes of a young woman out of step with her country’s culture.

"Elle is amazingly smart and talented and very much relates to Mary as a young woman," said Baer. "She is going to do something extraordinary in this role that will transition her from a compelling young adult to a formidable leading lady." 

The project is in the midst of securing financing and is looking to shoot in 2015.

The 16-year-old Fanning is one of Hollywood’s rising actresses, with Maleficent giving her profile a significant boost. Storm marks the second feature project she has come on to in the wake of the movie’s success; earlier in July Fanning signed to star in How to Talk to Girls at Parties, an adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story that will be directed by John Cameron Mitchell.

She is repped by WME, Echo Lake Management and Hansen Jacobson.