Tom Rothman's TriStar Teams With BBC Films for 'The Lady in the Van'

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Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith will star in the adaptation of Alan Bennett’s West End hit.

Tom Rothman’s TriStar Productions has joined BBC Films for the film adaptation of The Lady in the Van, based on the popular West End play.

Downton Abbey star Maggie Smith will reprise her role from the play, which is being adapted by playwright Alan Bennett, based on his own best-selling memoir.

Nicholas Hytner is directing the film, which tells the true story of Miss Shepherd (Smith), an eccentric woman who “temporarily” parked her broken-down van in Bennett’s London driveway, and proceeded to live there for the next 15 years.

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Alex Jennings will play both Bennett and, with some movie magic, his alter ego, AB.

Hytner, after serving as the head of the British National Theatre for a decade, has a long history of working with Rothman, having done four films together. Hytner previously worked with Bennett on the films of Bennett’s The Madness of King George and The History Boys. 

Damian Jones and Kevin Loader will produce, along with Hytner while Miles Ketley and Charles Moore will serve as executive producers. Principal photography is slated to begin in October in London, with release anticipated for the second half of 2015.

TriStar, winning the film rights in a competitive situation, will distribute worldwide, with the BBC taking the first television window in its territory, and making an additional investment in the negative. Peter Taylor, managing director for Sony Pictures Releasing International (U.K.), met with the filmmakers and outlined plans for the U.K. market.

The Crucible, The Madness of King George and The History Boys are among the films in my career of which I am the most proud. Nick is rarely gifted, and the chance to work with him and Alan again is sweet indeed. They make brilliant things. And Maggie Smith and Alex Jennings bring such intelligence to glorious life," said Rothman, who launched TriStar at Sony in August.

The Lady in the Van is the third film greenlighted by Rothman’s TriStar Productions since the beginning of the year, following Ricki and the Flash, directed by Jonathan Demme, written by Diablo Cody and starring Meryl Streep, and Robert Zemeckis untitled film based on Philippe Petit’s memoir To Reach the Clouds, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon and James Badge Dale.

Twitter: @Beccamford