EXCLUSIVE: Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds), Stranger Things and Maestro star Maya Hawke, Cannes Best Actor winner John Turturro (Severance), and Emmy winner Jon Hamm (Mad Men) are set to star in Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears’ (The Queen) Wilder & Me, which will be a buzzy package at this month’s EFM market.
Hawke will play Calista, a young musician whose life takes on a whole new meaning while working on the set of Billy Wilder’s film Fedora. Waltz will play legendary film director Wilder, known for classics including Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard and The Apartment. Turturro will play his lifelong friend and screenwriting partner I.A.L. Diamond. Hamm will play famed actor William Holden.
More from Deadline
Described as a “bittersweet drama”, the project has been adapted for the screen by two-time Oscar winner Christopher Hampton (The Father) with Oscar winner Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) producing and shoot scheduled for early 2025 in Greece.
CAA Media Finance, which is arranging financing for the film, represents the North American rights, with HanWay Films handling the rest of the world.
Based on Jonathan Coe’s popular novel Mr Wilder and Me, the project reunites Hampton and Frears again after Dangerous Liaisons and Cheri.
The story starts out during a heady Greek summer, and sees Calista fall in love with cinema and life on a journey of self-discovery. Thrilled by her new adventure, Calista follows Wilder to Munich and Paris to continue the shoot with leading actor William Holden, and experiences her first love. Realising his star is on the wane, Wilder navigates the changing world of cinema in the twilight of his career, while Calista’s career is just beginning. The time she spends in this glamorous, unfamiliar new life will change her forever.
The plan is for the production to make use of some of the Greek locations originally used by Wilder. Jeremy Thomas is producing for his Recorded Picture Company banner, marking his second film with Frears after their cult thriller The Hit. Thomas also collaborated with Hampton on David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.
Frears said today: “This is the most wonderful project. Wilder was sharp, clever and very very funny. And he directed Marilyn Monroe twice! Christoph Waltz will be magnificent. I always go by the script and this one is terrific.”
Hampton added: “Wilder And Me is the story of veteran film-makers in the 1970s, beginning to realise the extent of the changes within the industry and the ways in which they have failed to move with the times; it’s about the memories that haunt an émigré on his return to the boneyard of Europe; and it shows how an open-minded younger generation can draw inspiration from the giants of the past.”
Jeremy Thomas commented: “Billy Wilder has filled us all with the joy of cinema with some of the most memorable movies ever made. Told through the eyes of a young woman on the set of one of Billy’s last films, our story shows why they still hold so much magic.”
Gabrielle Stewart of HanWay noted: “It is always exciting to announce such a big package with award winning talent both in front and behind the camera such as Waltz, Turturro, Frears and Hampton. And at its heart, Maya Hawke is the perfect actress to take us on a magical journey of self-discovery and first love on the set of a legendary film director.”
Christoph Waltz is represented by Adam Schweitzer, Dar Rollins and Layne Murrow at CAA. Maya Hawke is represented by Franklin Latt, Andrea Weintraub, Peter Levine and Ruby Kaye at CAA, and managed by Liza Zusman and Jason Weinberg at Untitled Entertainment. John Turturro is represented by UTA and George Sheanshang. Jon Hamm is represented by Chris Andrews and Ryan Abboushi at CAA.
Best of Deadline