For all the success of “The King’s Speech,” there’s been one behind-the-scenes story that’s almost as heartwarming as King Bertie’s: that of the film’s screenwriter, David Seidler. A relative unknown, who hadn’t racked up a major credit since he wrote “Tucker: The Man And His Dream” for Francis Ford Coppola thirty years ago, Seidler was a former stammerer himself, who finally started to write the script that he’d been planning for years after he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and looks likely to win an Oscar for the first time, at the age of 73, next weekend.
For all his triumphs so far, and for those still to come, Seidler hadn’t yet been linked to a new project, but now word has leaked out of a new script, which may see Seidler team up again with his director on “The King’s Speech,” Tom Hooper. Baz Bamigboye reported this morning that the writer has a new project set up with the producer of that film, Gareth Unwin, at his Bedlam Productions, which tells the story of Lady Hester Stanhope, the so-called ‘Queen of the East.’
Stanhope was an explorer in the early 19th century, described by Seidler as ‘a female Lawrence of Arabia,’ who began as the hostess for her uncle, Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. After Pitt’s death in 1810, Stanhope, then aged 34, travelled through the Middle East, generally refusing to wear a veil, and sometimes disguising herself as a man as a result. Settling out there, she led occasional treasure-hunting expeditions, and became a powerful, well-respected figure, known as ‘Queen Hester,’ in what is now known as Lebanon, giving sanctuary to refugees, and believed that her destiny was to be the bride of a new Messiah.
It’s a pretty out-there story, but we can certainly see the potential in it, and why Seidler believes he’s found his next killer piece of material. Further digging reveals that the project has the title “The Lady Who Went Too Far,” and it’s based on the 2008 book “Star of the Morning: The Extraordinary Life Of Lady Hester Stanhope,” by Kirsten Ellis.
Furthermore, the film may see Seidler reteam with Tom Hooper, director of “The King’s Speech.” Hooper too hadn’t yet confirmed a new project, but a Screen Daily report from back in September that seemed to have been passed over by everyone, including us, suggested that Hooper was considering directing “The Lady Who Went Too Far,” which is budgeted at $18 million, and could shoot as soon as the end of the year.
We’re sure that Hooper’s fielding his fair share of offers, particularly as he may well end up winning an Oscar himself in the next couple of weeks, so if something tempting comes along, Hooper may fall off, but for the moment, it looks as though this has every chance of recapturing its predecessor’s success. Our biggest concern is what it might mean for “Queen of the Desert,” the mooted collaboration between Werner Herzog and Naomi Watts, which has a fairly similar premise, and still doesn’t have financing in place.