Millicent Simmonds (“A Quiet Place”) and “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan will play Helen Keller and her renowned teacher Anne Sullivan, respectively, in the upcoming Cornerstone biopic “Helen and Teacher.”
Wash Westmoreland (“Still Alice,” “Quinceañera”) will write and direct the film, which is set in the early 1900s and focuses on Keller’s years at Radcliffe College at Harvard University. Principal photography is scheduled to begin in summer 2022.
Unlike previous performers who have portrayed the deaf and blind Keller, 18-year-old Simmonds is deaf as well. The actress is also reportedly a distant cousin of Keller, who lost her sight and hearing when she was 19 months old and went on to become a disability rights activist.
Keller’s story has previously been told onstage and in films including Disney’s 1962 movie “The Miracle Worker,” which introduced Patty Duke as Keller and starred Anne Bancroft as Sullivan. That film won Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress Oscars for Duke and Bancroft, respectively. In 1979, Duke portrayed Sullivan in the 1979 remake of the film, which starred Melissa Gilbert as Keller.
“Helen & Teacher” is based on an original screenplay by Laetitia Mikles and Westmoreland, in consultation with a team at the Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults. The movie, a Killer Films & Sugar23 Production, will be produced by Sukee Chew, Pamela Koffler, Victor Paul Wajnberg. Russ Posternak will serve as executive producer.
“Most people only know of Helen Keller’s story from when she was a child,” Westmoreland said in a statement. “Helen & Teacher will look at her as a young adult when she developed a radical, world-changing political voice. Today, when some TikTok threads dispute Helen Keller’s achievements and even her existence, it is time for a film that shows her relevance, her brilliance, and her unbreakable spirit.”
Cornerstone’s Thompson and Gooder added: “We are looking forward to re-introduce one of the most famous teacher-student relationships in modern history. The lifelong work on disability rights by these two remarkable women paved the way for future generations. What better way to do it than with this talented creative team.”
Simmonds is represented by WME and Circle of Confusion. Brosnahan is represented by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment. Mikles is represented by Verve and Sugar23, and Westmoreland by UTA.