Alicia Vikander is Next on the Throne: Karim Aïnouz’s Firebrand Finds a Replacement for Michelle Williams
Fresh off the Cannes preemed docu Mariner Of The Mountains and a jury duty stint at the Berlinale just last week, Karim Aïnouz is setting up shop for the ambitious English language Firebrand and in some major news (not yet picked up by the trades) we now know that Michelle Williams will not topline the Brazilian filmmaker’s heavyweight project due to a scheduling conflict (is Williams heading towards Todd Haynes’ next project?). Next to the throne in the role of Catherine Parr (the last of Henry VIII’s six wives) is Alicia Vikander who’ll duke it out alongside Jude Law. The film’s producer Gabrielle Tana confirmed the news late last week. Longtime vet actor Simon Russell Beale is also on board. Hélène Louvart who is currently filming La chimera is pegged to expected to join the production for what we’re guessing will be an April start.
By the time young Catherine Parr (Williams) married the deteriorating, increasingly despotic King Henry VIII (Law), she had no assurances of a happy marriage; in fact, she had no assurances of surviving this marriage at all. Of her predecessors, two were thrown out, one died in childbirth and two were beheaded. While Catherine tried to keep her head about her to navigate the politics of her position, she brought a secret agenda. She was Protestant, believed it her duty to marry Henry, for it would be the only position in which she could convert him – and the kingdom – from his pro-Catholic position. That faith was tested when the church resisted granting his divorce from his first wife so he could marry Anne Boleyn, who would later be beheaded. With arrests, torture, and executions of Protestants on the rise, Catherine invited a dangerous game that would leave one of them dead before long. The thriller is told through Catherine’s singular point-of-view of the psychological horror of living with a monster—and the remarkable will to not only survive, but thrive.