Ralph Fiennes loves Charles Dickens

There are great expectations for a film Ralph Fiennes will make about Charles Dickens’s secret love affair.

The award-winning actor will direct a movie about the 13-year romance the writer had with Ellen Ternan, fondly known as Nelly by Dickens.

Fiennes has been meeting with a number of actresses to discuss the possibility of them portraying Nelly in The Invisible Woman, which is based on Claire Tomalin’s well-researched best-seller.

Those on Fiennes’s list are believed to include Imogen Poots, Abbie Cornish and Felicity Jones. For now, though, he is only meeting them — not offering them the role.

Carey Mulligan, soon to be seen in the cracking thriller Drive, is also on the ‘list’, but she is preparing to work with Baz Luhrmann on his screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, and may not be available by the time Fiennes intends to shoot next spring or early summer.

There had been talk of Fiennes portraying the novelist himself, as well as directing the film (which has a screenplay by Abi Morgan), but he seems keen to stay behind the camera on this one.

He did star and direct on his powerful film version of Coriolanus, which features exceptional performances from Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox and James Nesbitt. But in the case of The Invisible Woman, he will not be on screen. Fiennes started doing early pre-production on the Ternan film before starting rehearsals on The Tempest for director Trevor Nunn.

Once The Tempest ends its run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Fiennes will turn to Dickens again — this time playing Magwich in Mike Newell’s big-screen take on Great Expectations, which producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley are making in the late autumn.

Then, he will appear in Bond 23.

After that, The Invisible Woman is all his — although he’ll be keeping in touch, over the next few months, with producers Stewart Mackinnon, Gabrielle Tana and BBC Films.

From today you can see Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in the fabulous final act of the Harry Potter opus Deathly Hallows Part 2, and soon he’ll be a British PM in David Hare’s enthralling BBC TV spy drama Page Eight, which stars (among others) a nattily attired Bill Nighy.

by Helena Bryanlith

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