Maggie Smith reprises her beloved stage role as “The Lady in the Van,” which is getting a December awards-qualifying run after all from Sony Pictures Classics ahead of a yet-to-be-dated North American release. The film has a Special Presentations slot at the Toronto Film Festival before opening in the UK on November 13.
SPC might be feeling more secure, now, about awards chances because Smith, 80, is an actress who wins Oscars—she has won two of six nominations so far, for “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and “California Suite.” And she wins Emmys, too, for her role on “Downton Abbey” (despite being a perennial no-show at the annual ceremony).
A TriStar production, “The Lady in the Van” is playwright and screenwriter Alan Bennett’s adaptation of the London hit based on his memoir, and reunites him with his director on the films “The Madness of King George” and “The History Boys,” Nicholas Hytner, who makes his return to movies after a decade running the National Theatre. Smith will reprise her stage role for the big screen as Miss Shepherd, an eccentric woman who parked her broken-down van in Bennett’s London driveway and then stayed for the next fifteen years. Alex Jennings (“The Queen)” will star as Bennett and his alter ego, AB.