Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles in season 4 of Netflix’s “The Crown,” and BAFTA winner Jessie Buckley (“Wild Rose,” “Chernobyl”) are set to star as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers in “Romeo & Juliet,” a made-for-television production by the U.K.’s National Theatre.
“Romeo & Juliet” was originally scheduled to play this summer to theater audiences, but was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now re-conceived for the screen, this new 90-minute version will be shot over three weeks in the National Theatre’s Lyttelton theater, which will be temporarily transformed into a studio.
Rehearsals will begin in November and filming in December. The production will bow on PBS in the U.S. and on Sky Arts in the U.K. in 2021.
While the National Theatre has broadcast stage productions to cinemas for over a decade through its popular National Theatre Live program, this will be the first time an original production for screen has been created in its London headquarters.
The production will be directed by National Theatre associate Simon Godwin (“Antony and Cleopatra”) and adapted for screen by Emily Burns. The cast also includes Fisayo Akinade (“The Antipodes”), Deborah Findlay (“Coriolanus”), Tamsin Greig (“Twelfth Night”), Lucian Msamati (“His Dark Materials”) and Shubham Saraf (“A Suitable Boy”).
Rufus Norris, director and joint chief executive of the National Theatre, said: “I wanted to find a way to use that space to create something exciting and special for audiences, that utilized the exceptional skill and craft of the National Theatre’s teams, freelancers and creative associates, and that could reach as many people as we can. That’s all going to be possible with this brilliant film of ‘Romeo & Juliet.’”
Godwin said: “I think it’s a genius idea and I’m honored to be able to create the first film. I think I speak for myself, the creative team and the cast when I say how delighted we are to be focusing all our creativity into this version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ once more. Some ideas are staying, lots of new ones are coming in — I’m very excited about this new genre, combining film and theater, and bringing together the remarkable talents of those industries.”
“Romeo & Juliet” is produced by David Sabel, who created the National Theater Live program, at Sabel Productions. Executive producers are Dixie Linder, Cuba Pictures (“McMafia”), David Horn, Great Performances, Christine Schwarzman and Darren Johnston, No Guarantees, and Philip Edgar Jones for Sky Arts.
Jessie Buckley looks set for success at the Irish Film and Television Academy Awards (IFTAs) after landing three nominations on Tuesday.
“The Beast” star and “Calm With Horses” actress Niamh Algar bagged the most nods in IFTA’s acting categories too, with Jessie nominated for leading actress in both a film and drama for “Wild Rose” and “The Woman in White“, and also landing a supporting actress in a drama nod for “Chernobyl“.
Niamh will compete against Jessie in two categories, with her performance in “Pure” earning her a supporting actress in a drama nomination, and her leading role in TV drama “The Virtues” also receiving recognition. Her performance in “Calm With Horses” also bagged her a nod for supporting actress in the film section.
Another notable nominee is Saoirse Ronan for “Little Women“, who will compete against Jessie, Aisling Franciosi (“The Nightingale”), Bronagh Gallagher (“A Bump Along the Way“), Sarah Greene (“Rosie”), and Seana Kerslake (“The Hole in the Ground“) for the leading actress in a film prize.
Organisers are currently finalising plans for a bespoke virtual 2020 Awards Ceremony scheduled for September.