It’s been over a decade since Ingmar Bergman muse Liv Ullmann has been behind the camera with the actress-director staying relatively quiet throughout featuring only in a handful of film roles as well. Color us surprised as hell then when Ullmann revealed plans of a comeback in a recent interview in the Boston Globe noting that she’ll be “doing a movie next year in Ireland as a director.”
That interview failed to detail the project any further but, with a little digging, we were surprised to uncover very exciting news. Firstly, an article dating back to December 2011 revealed that Ullmann was scouting Ireland as a potential location for an adaptation of August Strindberg‘s classic Swedish play “Froken Julie” (or “Miss Julie“) — a fascinating, controversial work exploring power, sexuality, class, identity, love and gender set in 1874 which will see Ullmann “use Irish actors as servants and British as the masters of the house.”
Perhaps just as exciting as Ullmann’s return with such strong material, though, is news that she may have one of the best actresses of this generation on board to star. Scandanavian publication VG casually noted last year that the British-American adaptation already had Michelle Williams locked in, despite the brief mention, it sounds like it’s been something the two have been developing for quite some time.
A Vogue profile celebrating William’s performance in “My Week With Marilyn” last fall mentioned that “one of her idols, an actress turned director whose memoir Williams had been carrying around with her wherever she went, offered her a role in an upcoming film adaptation of a nineteenth-century stage classic.” At the time, though, the actress asked Vogue to withhold the details as the project was “just too precious” to her but the publication did tease readers by saying of all the movies Williams has made about relationships, this one “turns out the worst.”
We’re short of finding a picture of Williams carrying around an Ullmann biography but an actress-turned-director (Yes) helming a 19th century stage classic (Yes) that has a tragic love story as its heart (Yes)? That’s 3/3.
Strindberg’s play follows the titular character as she navigates her way through the oppressive society and begins a relationship with a senior servant at her father’s estate. The play has seen several adaptations in the past including a Alf Sjöberg-helmed 1951 Swedish-language version, a 1987 television adaptation starring Janet McTeer and a 1999 film by Mike Figgis starring Saffron Burrows and Peter Mullan.
It certainly sounds like a welcome return for Ullmann, though her absence as a helmer was never supposed to be this long in the first place. Throughout the ’00s, Ullmann was eyeing an adaptation of “A Doll’s House” with scribe Kjetil Bjornstad and had names like Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Ralph Fiennes, John Cusack and Stellan Skarsgaard attached at point or another before things fell apart in 2007. But she’s certainly got another promising stage-to-screen adaptation here, and hopefully it will all come together.