First Look at Mike Leigh's Long-Awaited Passion Project (Photo)

The biopic of artist J.M.W. Turner marks the writer/director's fifth collaboration with actor Timothy Spall.

Known for intimate portraits of the human condition and the occasional foray into historical dramas, Mike Leigh's 13th film finds the writer/director upping the scale and tackling material considered out of his price range. The yet-to-be-titled biopic of impressionist painter J.M.W. Turner was ten years in the making before Film4, Focus Features International and BFI stepped into help realize the dream.

In the first still from the film, now in post-production, actor Timothy Spall stands tall aboard the ship as the aforementioned artist. Spall is a veteran of Leigh's improv-heavy, workshop process, having previously costarred in Life Is Sweet, Secrets & Lies, All or Nothing, and the Gilbert & Sullivan period piece Topsy-Turvy.

“Turner as a character is compelling," Leigh said when financing for the Turner biopic finally came through. "I want to explore the man -- his working life, his relationships and how he lived. But what fascinates me most is the drama that lies in the tension between this driven eccentric and the epic, timeless world he evoked in his masterpieces."

It was announced in March that Sony Pictures Classics acquired all North American, Latin American and Eastern European rights to the untitled film. A release date has not been set.

Twitter: @misterpatches