The Berlin International Film Festival may not kick off until tomorrow night, but the event’s European Film Market is already buzzing with some of the hottest titles currently in play. Seville International is behind the foreign rights to perhaps one of the biggest titles, Xavier Dolan’s English-language debut “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan,” and news has now broken that Oscar winner Natalie Portman will be joining the star-studded cast. Nicholas Hoult and Thandie Newton have also joined the cast.
Starring “Game of Thrones” headliner Kit Harington and Jessica Chastain in another villainous role after her well-reviewed turn in “Crimson Peak,” “Donovan” centers around a popular American television star. His life and career are thrown into disarray after a gossip columnist exposes his secret correspondence with a young fan and actress in England. The movie is told 20 years after the event, as Donovan relives this part of his life and its consequences during a special interview.
“Donovan” has been one of Dolan’s passion projects for quite some time now — both Harington and Chastain have been attached to star for over a year now — and the supporting cast is rounded out by heavyweights Kathy Bates and Susan Sarandon, as well as Michael Gambon, Bella Thorne, Chris Zylka and Emily Hampshire. The film will be Dolan’s next in production, as he’s wrapped his next Marion Cotillard-starring “It’s Only the End of the World,” which many believe will premiere at Cannes this May.
Given the director’s track record of bringing out the very best in his female performers, news that Portman will be teaming up with the 26-year-old auteur is certainly a treat. The actress hasn’t been all that active in the years since she won the Best Actress Oscar for “Black Swan,” turning up in more Marvel movies than challenging dramas. That looks to change, however, as Portman is currently filming her Jackie Kennedy biopic with “No” director Pablo Larraín and has two Terrence Malick movies in the pipeline (“Knight of Cups” opens March 4). Her directorial debut, “A Tale Of Love And Darkness,” is also expected to hit theaters sometime this year.
CAA is repping domestic rights to “Donovan,” though it shouldn’t be hard to sell the drama based on this impressive cast.