Poliakoff takes on two films for HBO, BBC


British writer-director Stephen Poliakoff is set to do two films for HBO Films and the BBC.

The companion pieces, one starring Michael Gambon and one starring Oscar winner Maggie Smith, are set in the same dark and moody house.

Poliakoff wrote the scripts and is directing the movies, which have begun filming in London. TalkbackThames is producing.

In addition to the house, the two films are linked by Joe (newcomer Danny Lee Wynter), a young man from whose perspective the stories are told.

"Stephen Poliakoff is a unique creative force in the U.K., and we are very proud to be joining the BBC in co-financing his upcoming works," HBO Films president Colin Callender said. "We are particularly delighted to be reunited with the multitalented actors Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith."

The first movie, which is yet to be titled, explores the relationship between Elliot (Gambon), a strange and wealthy Londoner, and Joe, the teenage son of a cleaner who takes care of a grand, empty house Elliot owns.

The second film, "Capturing Mary," takes Joe and an older woman (Smith) into a dark and terrifying exploration of the woman's past, following her as a young girl (Ruth Wilson) as she encounters a charming, mysterious stranger (David Walliams) who affects her life forever.

The cast of the movies also includes Rupert Penry Jones, Kelly Reilly and Rebecca Hall.

"I am delighted to be reunited with Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith and Rupert Penry Jones, whom I have been fortunate enough to work with before, and also to have the opportunity to work with some of the very best emerging talent in Britain today," Poliakoff said. "It's very exciting to have such an exceptional cast."

The films will shoot back-to-back at locations in central London, with production continuing through January.

Deborah Jones is producing. Joanna Beresford and Lorraine Heggessey are executive producing for TalkbackThames. Nicolas Brown is executive producing for the BBC.

Gambon received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his starring role as Lyndon B. Johnson in HBO's "Path to War" and appeared in Mike Nichols' Emmy-winning HBO miniseries "Angels in America."

Smith won an Emmy for her starring role in HBO's "My House in Umbria."