Talk about a rags to riches story!
Quvenzhane Wallis will soon be trading the extreme poverty of the Bathtub for the extravagant wealth of Daddy Warbucks' mansion as she's officially signed on to play the title role in the new screen adaptation of "Annie." The "Beasts of the Southern Wild" star was first rumored for the part earlier this month when Will Smith's daughter Willow, who had long been attached to the project, officially "aged out" of the role upon turning 12 years old.
The character of Annie, a spunky, savvy yet trouble-prone orphan, first appeared in Harold Gray's long-running comic strip, "Little Orphan Annie," which made its debut on August 5, 1924. The strip took its name from the 1885 poem "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley and followed the adventures of Annie, her dog Sandy and her benefactor, Oliver 'Daddy' Warbucks, which often served as timely commentaries on organized labor, communism and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal (FDR himself would later appear as a character in the Broadway musical).
The strip was adapted as a radio show in 1930, as films in 1932 and 1938 and as a Broadway musical in 1977, which in turn was adapted into a film in 1982, featuring Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters. The show features some of the most popular songs in Broadway history with almost every one making for a showstopper, including "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," "Hard Knock Life," "Easy Street," "Maybe," "N.Y.C." and "Tomorrow."
This new "Annie" is being directed by Will Gluck ("Easy A") and produced by James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith through Overbrook Entertainment, and by Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter, Jay Brown and Tyran 'Ty Ty' Smith through Marcy Media. Hannah Minghella, President of Production for Columbia Pictures, is especially pleased with finding their leading lady.
"With the recent Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim, Quvenzhane Wallis is a true star and we believe her portrayal as Annie will make her a true worldwide star," Minghella said in a press release. "She is an extraordinary young talent with an amazing range, not only as an actress but as a singer and dancer, and we can't wait for audiences to further discover her."
We knew she could act thanks to her astonishing debut in "Beasts of the Southern Wild," though the various survival challenges of the Bathtub didn't leave many opportunities for singing and dancing (at least not in the style of Broadway, anyway). We're certainly looking forward to hearing her belt some of those tunes when the film opens in winter 2014.
Wallis is currently the youngest-ever Oscar nominee for Best Actress at the age of 9.
See the trailer for 'Beasts of the Southern Wild':