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Colin Firth Sought For ‘My Fair Lady’ Remake Opposite Carey Mulligan

Written by on February 18, 2011 

With Colin Firth quite likely a lock for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as King George VI in The King’s Speech, his newly-polished stardom is pumping life back into a long-in-development remake of George Cukor‘s 1964 musical My Fair Lady. [The Playlist]

The remake of the Cukor film (based on the Lerner & Loewe musical, itself based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw), which starred an iconic Audrey Hepburn as street-urchin Eliza Doolittle and an Oscar-winning Rex Harrison as Prof. Henry Higgins, has been scripted by Emma Thompson and has had a revolving door of talent involved with the project over the years.

Before current helmer John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) and current Eliza Carey Mulligan (An Education)  jumped on board, Danny Boyle was attached to direct Keira Knightley, but she departed with Boyle when Daniel Day-Lewis could not be secured to play Higgins.

A slew of names then came and went, including Joe Wright, Daniel Craig, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Gemma Arterton and Emily Blunt. Once Madden came aboard, he apparently tried to block the studio’s preferred choice of Hugh Grant as Higgins, even briefly leaving the project over Grant’s inclusion.

With The King’s Speech closing in on the coveted $100 million mark – quite a feat for a period British drama about a stammering king, and is due to strong word-of-mouth and savvy marketing – the project appears to be a go, with Sony now convinced of Firth’s star power. Still, both Mulligan and Firth’s dance card is jam-packed for the next year or so.

Firth is joining Chan Wook-Park‘s Stoker after appearing in the Coen Brothers-scripted remake of Gambit. Mulligan is shooting Shame for director Steve McQueen, she’s got the lead role in the off-Broadway Through A Glass Darkly, based on the great Ingmar Bergman film, and will be playing Daisy in Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby – whenever that happens.

Beyond all this, the legal rights seem to be a tangled mess (which could suddenly clear up with a deal in place and a star like Firth solidly on board). CBS Films reportedly own part of the rights to the original film, having backed  the original stage musical. The rights to that will again be in Lerner & Loewe’s hands, but Thompson’s script apparently includes portions of Shaw’s Pygmalion preface, as well as material pulled from the play’s sequel.

Assuming that all of these projects come off without any glitches (as they always do, right?), My Fair Lady could be in front of cameras by the middle of 2012, and will hopefully appear in theaters some time in 2013.

Have you seen the original My Fair Lady? Do you think it’s due for an update? If so, what do you think of Mulligan and Firth in the roles?

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