Gary Oldman has been hit with a lawsuit by a screenwriter who claims Darkest Hour lifted certain scenes from his unproduced Winston Churchill script.
Ben Kaplan, a teacher and writer for several History Channel series, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court last Friday (18 September).
As reported by Variety, Kaplan claims that Oldman signed on to his script, also about Churchill, before the actor dropped it in favour of Darkest Hour in 2015.
Most significantly, the lawsuit alleges that the Oscar-nominated movie borrows historical inventions and scenes from his own script, which Kaplan says he began writing in 1999.
Kaplan points out that both scripts falsely claim that Churchill was the one who devised the idea for the British civilian armada to help evacuate Dunkirk.
The lawsuit states, “Attributing to Churchill the idea for the civilian armada and the order that it be mustered was an ahistorical, fictional invention of Mr Kaplan that is scripted in Churchill and duplicated in Darkest Hour. It was Britain's civilian fleet, not Churchill’s, until Mr Kaplan portrayed him as its progenitor.”
It goes on to claim “false designation of origin” under federal trademark law, claims of breach of implied contract, unfair business practices and interference with contract.
The suit names Oldman, his agent and his manager as defendants, along with NBCUniversal, Working Title and Focus Features.
The suit alleges that Oldman and his team had access to three versions of Kaplan’s script which would have allowed the scenes to be lifted into the 2017 film which was written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, The Two Popes, Bohemian Rhapsody).
As well as shared scenes, the suit claims that the two films also share a similar story arc. It highlights their shared ending of Churchill's “We shall fight on the beaches” speech.
The Independent has approached Oldman’s representatives for comment.