Annette Bening has never been the most prolific of actresses. Whenever she’s appeared in the last decade or so, she’s tended to make a splash, but she’s rarely made more than one film every couple of years, preferring, totally understandably, to focus instead on raising her children with Warren Beatty. But her Oscar-nominated turn in “The Kids Are All Right” seems to have revived her interest in acting: she’s got as many as four films on the way, including “Imogene,” “He Loves Me,” “Bomb” and Beatty’s gestating Howard Hughes picture. And she’s just added one more to her dance card.
Screen Daily reports that Bening will star in “The Great,” a comedy from Australian filmmaker Gillian Armstrong, the director of “My Brilliant Career,” “Little Women,” “Oscar & Lucinda” and “Charlotte Gray,” among others. The film, set up at British company Bankside Films (“Trishna“), Macgowan Films (“Two Hands“) and Lago Films (“A Dangerous Method“), is based on the life of Catherine The Great, who was Empress of Russia in the 18th century, and has previously been seen on screen played by Tallulah Bankhead in Ernst Lubitsch and Otto Preminger’s “A Royal Scandal,” and by Catherine Zeta-Jones in a 1995 TV movie.
A synopsis on Bankside’s website gives a little more detail on what Armstrong is planning: “Catherine is a minor royal living in rural Austria in the seventeenth century [ed note: pretty sure that’s not right…] She is idealistic, naive and an utter romantic. When she is chosen to be married to Peter, Emperor of Russia, she is thrilled and dreams of a great love and a beautiful life. Instead she must choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia. And in doing so she brings enlightenment to her people. ‘The Great’ is a modern story about the past, about how to live with your choices, and about how to kill your husband.”
It sounds like a role tailor-made for Bening, and we’re interested to see what she does with the part. The script comes from Australian scribe Tony McNamara (“The Rage In Placid Lake“), and shooting is set to get underway in September.