Toronto: Gemma Arterton to Play Soul Icon Dusty Springfield in Biopic From 'Carol' Team

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Gemma Arterton

'So Much Love' will mark the directorial debut of 'Carol' screenwriter Phyllis Nagy and will follow the 'Son of a Preacher Man' singer's journey to Memphis to record her career-defining record, 'Dusty in Memphis.'

Dusty Springfield, the soul legend and Swinging Sixties icon who became one of the biggest British stars in the U.S., is getting the biopic treatment, with Gemma Arterton (Their Finest, The Escape) attached to star. 

So Much Love, which is being introduced to buyers in Toronto by Rocket Science, reunites Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley's multi-award winning U.K. banner Number 9 Films with Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy for the third time following 2014's critically acclaimed Carol and the Emmy-nominated HBO film Mrs. Harris in 2005. The film will mark the directorial debut of Nagy, who also wrote the screenplay. 

Set in 1968, at the peak of Springfield's popularity, So Much Love will follow the singer's journey to Memphis, Tenn., to record her career-defining record, Dusty in Memphis, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. As she navigates her way through the politics of both the recording studio and the city, what she sees, hears and experiences there draws her back to key moments in her life and artistic development — including her destiny-altering encounter with the music of Motown, her stand against Apartheid policies during her aborted South African tour, and her thorny brushes with men in the music industry who were intimidated by both her talent and her insistence on moulding perfect performances rather than settling for good ones.

Springfield's greatest hits, including "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Just a Little Lovin,'" will feature in the film, set to shoot in the U.S. and the U.K. in spring 2019. 

"Dusty Springfield has long been a hero of mine — an innovative, brilliant artist and a complex, contradictory woman — I can’t wait to bring her to life on screen," said Nagy.

Added Arterton: "I have been an admirer of Dusty Springfield since I was a teenager: her effortless husky voice, the way she conveyed emotion through music, how she helped bring Motown to the U.K. Dusty was ahead of her time in many ways and inspired so many future artists. She was generous, witty, mercurial, shy, extrovert and a true English eccentric. I simply cannot wait to play her."

With further casting underway, So Much Love has been developed by Number 9 Films, which is working in partnership with Universal Music on the film’s soundtrack.

"In the tradition of Walk the Line and La Vie En Rose, all-time great films about female singers, So Much Love tells the as-yet un-filmed story of a woman whose work redefined the cultural landscape as the greatest soul singer to come out of the U.K.," said Karlsen.

"Stephen Woolley and I are proud to follow Carol and Colette with So Much Love, a story that places a woman at its center and to be reuniting with two great female talents behind and in front of the camera, Phyllis Nagy and Gemma Arterton."

Number 9 Films is also heading to Toronto for a special presentation of Wash Westmoreland's Sundance-bowing Collette, starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West, while Karlsen will be a governor at this year's TIFF Filmmaker Lab.

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