Renaissance also developing Seve Ballesteros biopic.
Renaissance Films’ Stephen Evans has revealed further details about his planned $50 million biopic of Princess Diana.
Evans has enlisted Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former head of private security, and her former private secretary, Commander Patrick Jephson, to ensure the project’s accuracy. A director is expected to be confirmed shortly and Evans is looking to cast a British actress in the role of Diana. Philip Kerr has written the screenplay.
“It’s an amazing story,” Evans told Screen. “What is quite clear is that her (Princess Diana’s) life was an amazing life. She was a wagonload of monkeys but she was also an amazing, fascinating, ballsy woman.”
Evans was speaking on the eve of the UK premiere in London (on Tuesday night) of Christopher Menaul’s First Night, Renaissance’s new romantic comedy starring Richard E. Grant and Sarah Brightman. The film will then be released through Evans’ Britannia Films on 50 screens later this month, with international sales handled by SC International
The Princess Diana film will concentrate on the period of the troubled princess’s life life leading up to her divorce from Prince Charles. Through the collaboration of characters like Wharfe and Jephson, Evans is promising a level of authenticity that other British films about the monarchy may have lacked.
“The people we are dealing with were the closest people to Diana,” Evans said. He promised the film will stick closely to the facts. “Essentially, we don’t stray from it (the truth). There’s enough amusement, enough poignancy and enough drama that we don’t need to move from it.”
The film won’t feature her relationship with Dodi Al Fayed.
Asked whether the project is likely to receive the blessing of Buckingham Palace, Evans responded: “I have no idea. I wouldn’t think they’d be thrilled about it but if they knew what we’re writing, I think they’d be relieved and pleased.”
“You don’t often get a movie like this where you know, that if you can make it work, it is bomb proof,” the Renaissance boss added. “The irony is that it’s not so much bomb proof from the POV of who is in it – it is bomb proof because in female terms, it (Princess Diana) is probably the grandest marquee name of the Twentieth Century.”
Renaissance has been developing the Diana project for two years. As the outfit behind Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and The Madness Of King George, the company has a track record of making films about the British royal family.
“Henry V took many years but it ultimately is in profit. Madness Of King George is clearly in profit…with another royal film, we might scoop the pool.”
Other projects Renaissance has in development include a long-gestating adaptation of Iain M. Banks’ The Wasp Factory to which Stephen Daldry is still attached and for which a new script is due shortly; an adaptation of Lorna Sage’s memoir Bad Blood (which Emily Mortimer has scripted) and a biopic of legendary Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros, who died earlier this year.