EXCLUSIVE: Shoot begins 10 August in London on movie biopic Louis Wain starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough and Toby Jones.
Wain was an English artist who lived between 1860-1939 and is best known for his drawings, which consistently featured anthropomorphized large-eyed cats and kittens. In his later years he may have suffered from schizophrenia (although some specialists dispute this claim), which, according to some psychiatrists, can be seen in his work.
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Directed by BAFTA-nominated, rising UK director Will Sharpe (Flowers) and written by Sharpe and Simon Stephenson, the film is being produced by Guy Heeley (Swimming With Men) and Adam Ackland (Patrick Melrose) with Ed Clarke and Leah Clarke. Behind the movie are StudioCanal, SunnyMarch, Shoebox, Film4 and Amazon Studios.
At the age of 23, Wain married his sisters’ governess, Emily Richardson (Foy), who was ten years his senior. The marriage was considered somewhat scandalous at the time due to the age difference. He moved with her to Hampstead in north London but Emily soon began to suffer from breast cancer and died three years into their marriage. Prior to Emily’s death, Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, a stray black and white kitten they had rescued after hearing him mewing in the rain one night.
Despite his popularity, Wain suffered financial difficulty throughout his life. He remained responsible for supporting his mother and sisters and had little business sense. He often sold his drawings outright, retaining no rights over their reproduction.
In a statement sent to us Cumberbatch said, “I am thrilled by the prospect of playing the courageous, playful spirit that is Louis Wain and to be producing such a special film. I have admired Will’s work for several years through Flowers and from the moment we first met, knew he was the perfect person to bring Louis’ inspirational and odyssean story to life. Together we plan to bring audiences a sincerely uplifting, playful, thought provoking tale of resilience, creativity and the enduring power of love”
This is a powerful screen combo with a host of strong partners aboard. Cumberbatch is coming off Avengers: Endgame and has spy thriller Ironbark and Sam Mendes war-drama 1917 in post-production. The Crown star Foy most recently starred in features First Man and The Girl In The Spider’s Web. The duo previously starred together in 2011 UK drama Wreckers. Birdman actress Riseborough stars in upcoming Amazon crime drama series ZeroZeroZero.
Studiocanal will release the film in their territories UK, France Germany, Australia/NZ and is selling international. Amazon will release in the U.S.
Vivendi-owned Studiocanal has a 20% stake in Cumberbatch’s production company SunnyMarch. The project marks UK director Sharpe’s third feature after 2011 pic Black Pond and 2016 movie The Darkest Universe. TV work includes Kudos drama Flowers with Olivia Colman.