DAME HELEN MIRREN and CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER are set to play legendary Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sophia in Michael Hoffman’s biopic The Last Station. They are replacing MERYL STREEP and ANTHONY HOPKINS respectively. JAMES McAVOY rounds out the cast.

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  1. Losing Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins would have to be considered bad news, but it’s hard to argue with Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.

    Still, even with Helen’s Oscar, this feels like a step down prestige-wise. I don’t mean that as a slam on anyone, nor does it make me less interested in the movie. I’m just saying.

  2. I second the wow. You have a talent Miranda for finding very striking shots of stars.

  3. Miranda Wilding Says:

    Thanks, sartre.

  4. Miranda Wilding Says:

    It’s tough to tell, Craig. Even genius actors with enormous prestige have to pay the rent. (Laurence Olivier did a lot of television commercials towards the end of his career. Back then from what I understand this was highly unusual, if not completely frowned upon. But Lord Olivier had a growing family with Joan Plowright so he didn’t give a damn who objected. His children had to be taken care of – and that was THAT.) Sometimes jobs are taken for money. Some for location or because the other stars or the director would be interesting to collaborate with.

    But, the fact of the matter is, when you read a script you never have any idea what it really will be like until the final cut. (Well, even that is subject to much speculation. Most directors don’t have final cut. As far as I know, some of the great classic directors did. They adamantly refused to compromise on their respective visions. People either agreed to what they wanted or they took their work elsewhere. Good for them. Artistic expression is precious and not to be trifled with. Woody Allen and the Coens have complete contol over their own work. But that’s hardly the norm. Witness the director’s cut DVDs that have popped up all over the place within the last several years.)

    If it’s a strong, well written piece (and you can always tell) then it’s LIKELY to be great. But one never knows. More than a few fantastic actors have signed on to seemingly successful megaprojects only to have them turn out to be horrible at worst and missed opportunities at best.

    There are no guarantees in this world on any front. But the film industry is particularly known for its pitfalls.

    I don’t know, Craig. Maybe (after The Queen) Dame Helen will have a run of playing historical figures and real people? For all of her high wattage glamour and utterly distracting sensuality, Ms. Mirren is a fantastic character actor.

    I read The Fountainhead when I was 17. Never could get that book out of my mind. It remains a treasured favourite to this day. I was always particularly fascinated with Ayn Rand. (Though I do think that her political stance was quite off the mark.) When I found out Helen was going to play her, I was ecstatic. I thought she could bring a great deal to the role. Unfortunately, the deal fell through and they ended up making it for television. I caught it a couple of years ago and didn’t think it was particularly watchable. But Helen was GREAT.

    She is the kind of actor that consistently rises above her material (she has made excellent choices but no one ever does it 100%) and she’s a joy to watch no matter what. I think she could make the phone book sound compelling. Personally, I’m glad Helen is finally getting her due. In her 60s, she looks as good as any woman 30 years younger. She’s fiercely talented and doing excellent work in a wide variety of different projects.

    Thank God for Helen. Between her and Dame Judi, the industry has to take women of a certain age seriously…and, in a changing world, they are setting up the template for other brilliant, alluring women to follow.

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