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Jessie Buckley and Paul Mescal in Talks to Lead Chloé Zhao’s ‘Hamnet’

The historical fiction film about William Shakespeare's wife is set up at Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners.
Jessie Buckley Paul Mescal Chloe Zhao Hamnet
Jessie Buckley and Paul Mescal
Getty Images

“Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao has landed two heavy hitters for her next film, “Hamnet,” set up at Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners. Oscar nominees Jessie Buckley and Paul Mescal are both in talks to star in the film, an individual with knowledge of the project told IndieWire.

“Hamnet” is a historical fiction take on the Bard, William Shakespeare, that tells the story of his wife Anne “Agnes” Hathaway and her romance with the man who would become the world’s most famous playwright. The novel focuses on the death of the couple’s son, Hamnet, who died at age 11 in 1596 and has been speculated to be an inspiration for Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet.”

Specific character details for Buckley and Mescal were not disclosed.

“Hamnet” is based on a New York Times-best-selling novel from 2020 by author Maggie O’Farrell. Zhao is co-writing the script with O’Farrell.

Liza Marshall through Hera Pictures and Pippa Harris, and Sam Mendes via Neal Street Productions are producing the film. Nic Gonda (“The Tree of Life,” “Knight of Cups”) is executive producing on behalf of his banner Book of Shadows. Jeb Brody, Amblin’s President of Production, and Mia Maniscalco, SVP Creative Affairs, will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.

Mescal was recently nominated for an Oscar for his work on last year’s “Aftersun,” and he has become one of the most in-demand actors in town, set to star in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” sequel, in Richard Linklater’s “Merrily We Roll Along” and in Gareth Evans’ “Foe” alongside Saoirse Ronan. Some of his other recent credits include “Carmen,” “God’s Creatures,” and his breakout series role “Normal People.” And he previously appeared with Buckley in the drama “The Lost Daughter” starring Olivia Colman.

Buckley has nearly been just as in demand after she was Oscar-nominated for “The Lost Daughter” and following her breakout work in “Wild Rose.” She’s next meant to star in the sci-fi “Fingernails” for director Christos Nikou and alongside Riz Ahmed, as well as “Wicked Little Letters,” which will reunite her with Olivia Colman. Some of her other credits include the acclaimed “Women Talking” and “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.”

Buckley is represented by United Agents, CAA, Relevant and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole. Mescal is represented by CAA and the Curtis Brown Group.

Deadline first reported the news of the casting.

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