ALISON BOSHOFF: James Norton’s next big role? Playing Ted Hughes the ‘serial killer’ in a dark new TV portrait of the poet laureate
James Norton’s career took a stratospheric turn thanks to his role as psychopath and sexual predator Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley — the finale this February was one of the most-watched television moments of the year.
And it can be revealed that he is being sought to play another ‘serial killer’ Yorkshireman — in a dark new portrait of the poet laureate Ted Hughes, who will be presented as a monster who destroyed his lovers via ‘coercive control’.
Hughes, who died in 1998, is a figure of fascination for rising TV writer Grace Ofori-Attah — and she has got her Cambridge University friend Norton to agree to work with her on an extraordinary TV drama about his life.
The plan is for actress Ruth Wilson to take the role of Assia Wevill, Hughes’s mistress. The series will be based on Lover Of Unreason, a book about Wevill’s life, and a collection of letters from Hughes’s first wife, Sylvia Plath, to her mother.
Hughes married American writer Plath in 1956. She committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30.
James Norton’s (pictured) career took a stratospheric turn thanks to his role as psychopath and sexual predator Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley
Norton is being sought to play another ‘serial killer’ Yorkshireman — in a dark new portrait of the poet laureate Ted Hughes (pictured), who will be presented as a monster who destroyed his lovers via ‘coercive control’
The plan is for actress Ruth Wilson to take the role of Assia Wevill (pictured), Hughes’s mistress
From the outset there were accusations of brutality by Hughes and claims he had driven her to her death.
Plath’s gravestone, which mentions Hughes’s name, has been vandalised repeatedly by those who blame him for her death.
In letters not seen until 2017, Plath accused her husband of physically abusing her in 1961, days before she miscarried their second child.
They separated in late 1962, by which time he was having an affair with Wevill.
After Plath’s death, Wevill moved in with Hughes but six years later she also took her own life — killing their four-year-old daughter Shura, too.
Hughes went on to marry for a second time, to nurse Carol Orchard, and they remained a couple until his death in 1998. Orchard called the claims of assault against her husband ‘absurd.’
Ms Ofori-Attah said: ‘James is absolutely on board, especially having filmed Happy Valley in Yorkshire, around Heptonstall — where Sylvia’s grave is. I’ve spoken to Ruth about it. Now I want to get the two of them together to talk in more detail about the project.
Ruth Wilson at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 5 2021 in Venice
‘My take on it is that Ted Hughes was a serial killer. You only need to have killed more than two people to be a serial killer.
‘The same weekend Sylvia died, Ted moved Assia into the house where Sylvia had killed herself, to look after the two young children.
‘Both Sylvia and Assia killed themselves by gassing themselves. Assia killed the daughter she had with Ted.
‘And Ted’s son also took his own life — so there’s all this death around Ted. He is the common factor — and there’s also the coercive factor in his relationships with the two women in his life.
‘He was responsible in some ways for Assia’s death — she felt he was never going to move on from Sylvia, so she killed herself in the same way. She was haunted by the ghost of Sylvia.’
Ofori-Attah said she found Hughes’s reputation as a national treasure ‘interesting’. ‘When I went to Cambridge there was all this information about the romance of Ted’s relationships and I was really drawn into the tortured mythology of their [his and Plath’s] love story.’
Ex-Bond girl Lea loses out on Emmanuelle to rival French star
Bond girl Lea Seydoux has been dropped by the makers of the new Emmanuelle film . . . in favour of another French actress who better fits the director’s ‘artistic vision’.
Seydoux, 37, was announced last year as the lead in the movie, based on the French erotic novel, which is being made by director Audrey Diwan.
Ms Diwan wants to start filming in September, in five-star hotels in Hong Kong — but with Noemie Merlant, 34, in the title role instead.
Merlant’s star is on the rise after she played Cate Blanchett’s assistant in Tar. Diwan insisted: ‘She is a pure artistic choice, an obvious one.
‘I love Lea Seydoux, I want to make a film with her one day. But to me, she was not the character I imagined.
‘From Portrait Of A Lady On Fire to Tar, I have never ceased to be seduced by the strength of Noemie’s acting. The film requires enormous involvement, mutual trust. And I know I found the one.’
The Emmanuelle films grew out of the 1967 book, The Joys Of A Woman, published under the nom de plume Emmanuelle Arsan.
The 1974 film, starring Sylvia Kristel, remains one of the most successful in the history of French cinema.
Bond girl Lea Seydoux (pictured) has been dropped by the makers of the new Emmanuelle film . . . in favour of another French actress who better fits the director’s ‘artistic vision’
Ms Diwan wants to start filming in September, in five-star hotels in Hong Kong — but with Noemie Merlant (pictured), 34, in the title role instead
Home to roost? Maybe later
Fans of the Osbournes, who are waiting to see the family settling back into village life in Buckinghamshire in the BBC ten-part docu-series Home To Roost, are going to have to be patient.
Last August, the BBC promised a ‘funny, moving and honest insight’ into their new lives in the UK.
The trouble is, nine months on, they haven’t upped sticks.
Sources close to Ozzy and Sharon blame the ‘terrible’ property market in Los Angeles, and say they are waiting for renovations at their new home, so Ozzy can have live-in care for his Parkinson’s.
They have also decided they aren’t ready to give up a base in California for good, and want to keep a home of some sort in the city. So has the BBC shot any film yet? Not much, comes the reply.
The Osbournes reality show on MTV was a huge hit (pictured) from 2002 to 2005 and showed Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack — daughter Aimee declined to take part — effing and blinding through life.
Meanwhile, Rod Stewart — a fellow long-term California resident — has also put his house up for sale, for $70 million. It comes as taxes rise in the state, along with crime rates.
Fans of the Osbournes (pictured), who are waiting to see the family settling back into village life in Buckinghamshire in the BBC ten-part docu-series Home To Roost, are going to have to be patient
It’s the Bomb vs the bombshell
Barbie will be going head-to-head with Oppenheimer on July 21 in cinemas: the bombshell versus the Bomb.
Those in the know say the timing is far from coincidental and is all to do with a row between Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros (WB) — who have released his films, including Dunkirk and the Dark Knight Batman trilogy, for nearly 20 years.
Nolan and WB clashed over the release of his film Tenet in cinemas in 2020, much delayed due to the pandemic. But they fell out properly the following year, when the studio decreed all its films opening in the cinema would be simultaneously released on its streaming channel, HBO Max. A furious Nolan took Oppenheimer to Universal, who have promised him at least 90 days of exclusive theatrical release.
The film stars Cillian Murphy in the title role; as well as Florence Pugh, Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr.
Barbie, which is made by WB, stars Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell — and Helen Mirren, as the narrator.
Shania: I paid for tax when I was only eleven
Singer Shania Twain claims she has been paying tax since she was 11 years old.
The Man I Feel Like A Woman star, 57, says she started working as a singer in bars at the age of eight, and adds: ‘I didn’t start making money until I was 11 . . . so when I was 11, I was a taxpayer, I was earning money under contract in the bars.’
Twain told Louis Theroux in his podcast: ‘It was very intimidating. I didn’t want to be there.’
Singer Shania Twain (pictured) claims she has been paying tax since she was 11 years old
Amazon’s sci-fi action thriller Citadel drew an underwhelming response from critics even though it cost $300 million to produce, and wasn’t in the U.S. Top 10.
But — perhaps boosted by the leading role for Priyanka Chopra Jonas, one of India’s biggest stars — it was in the Top 10 in India for three weeks after it was released.
It has now been renewed for a second season.
Josh is the man in a campervan
The Crown’s Josh O’Connor plays an archaeologist caught up in an international market for stolen artefacts in film La Chimera.
Director Alice Rohrwacher had intended for the character to be middle aged, but after meeting O’Connor said: ‘I thought it could only be him.’
She reveals that Josh studied Italian for the film, spent time with tombaroli — real-life tomb raiders — and even lived in a van for the summer, to get into character.
David Beckham serves beer brewed by his pal Guy Ritchie at his £12 million Costwolds farmhouse.
Wife Victoria posted pictures of sons Romeo and Brooklyn enjoying a drink in the sun last week — with Romeo pulling a pint of 4.2 pc Angel’s Lore lager from a wood and brass beer pump.
That lager is made by the ‘Gritchie’ brewery — produced by Guy, commercially, at his Ashcombe House estate in Wiltshire.
The beer pump is in a new bar which David has installed in a posh wood and canvas glamping structure in the grounds of his house near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.
One wag has nicknamed the safari-style area Glamp David.
David Beckham serves beer brewed by his pal Guy Ritchie at his £12 million Costwolds farmhouse
Mary Berry loves Strictly Come Dancing so much that her cocker spaniel, Darcey, was named after former judge Darcey Bussell.
But she told the Hay Festival she wouldn’t be doing the show herself, even though she had been asked.
‘Can you imagine! I’ve got two left feet,’ Mary, 88, exclaimed. ‘And as for that programme [I’m A Celebrity…] where you have to eat worms! I mean, why would anybody do it, other than if they were hard-up!’
Sir Cliff Richard, 82, is to release a memoir, A Head Full Of Music, about the songs which have defined his life.
The book is described as a personal look back at his encounters with stars including Sir Elton John and Aretha Franklin and his friendship with the late Olivia Newton-John.
It will confirm that his favourite band of all time is . . . the Bee Gees. Cliff insists they are underrated, and even better than the Beatles.
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