Jason Isaacs to play Hollywood great Cary Grant in ITV biopic

·2 min read

Jason Isaacs will star as Hollywood great Cary Grant in a drama for ITV.

Titled Archie, the four-part series will follow the actor born Archibald Leach in Bristol in 1904 as he embraces America and transforms into one of film’s most recognisable leading men.

Bafta-winning screenwriter Jeff Pope, whose credits include Stan & Ollie and Philomena, has signed on to the project, which comes from ITV Studios and BritBox International.

Film – Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon – Savoy Hotel – London
Cary Grant with Dyan Cannon (PA)

Grant’s daughter, Jennifer, and ex-wife Dyan Cannon, have both given the project their blessing and also serve as executive producers.

Pope interviewed both women extensively during his research.

Paul Andrew Williams, who previously worked with Pope on A Confession, will direct the series.

Isaacs, whose credits include Harry Potter, Black Hawk Down and The Death of Stalin, said: “There was only one Cary Grant and I’d never be foolish enough to try to step into his iconic shoes.

“Archie Leach, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from the character he invented to save himself.

“Jeff’s brilliant scripts bring to life his relentless struggle to escape the demons that plagued him, his obsessive need for control, his fears, his weaknesses, his loves and his losses.

“It’s the story of a man, not a legend, and those are shoes I can’t wait to walk in.”

LA Stock Hands Grant
The hand and foot prints of Cary Grant outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (William Conran/PA)

Grant faced extreme poverty, his father’s adultery and the loss of his older brother, John, as a child.

After joining a music hall act, the Bob Pender Troupe, as a stilt walker, he toured America where he decided to pursue a life in showbusiness.

A chance meeting with the comedian George Burns helped him find his footing on the acting ladder and his first contract with a film studio which urged him to adopt a stage name.

The drama will cut to scenes in 1961 when, at the height of his fame and living in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, Grant was breaking box office records but was deeply unhappy in his private life.

Jennifer Grant said: “My father was an extremely private man, so naturally, when Jeff Pope approached me with the idea to write dad’s life story, I was trepidatious at best.

“Jeff’s thoughtfully intelligent understanding of dad’s boyhood won me over. My father’s formative years as Archie Leach in Bristol, England, and the extraordinary challenges he faced, lie at the heart of Archie.

“Cary Grant is emblematic of charm, wit and grace, but unknown to most are the enormous challenges he overcame to create himself.”

Further details of casting will be announced closer to the start of filming.

Archie will premiere on new streaming service, ITVX, which launches later this year. The drama will air on ITV several months later.