A touch of cloak and dagger for Lady Mary as Michelle lines up role in spy thriller



22:31 GMT, 29 March 2012

Michelle Dockery: In talks to appear in the spy thriller Restless

Michelle Dockery: In talks to appear in the spy thriller Restless

Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery is in talks to star with Hayley Atwell and, possibly, Charlotte Rampling in a nail-biting spy thriller.

Michelle, who plays the soon-to-be- married Lady Mary Crawley in Julian Fellowes’s ITV phenomenon, is rumoured to be in line to play the daughter of Hayley and Charlotte in William Boyd’s adaptation of his award-winning novel Restless.

Hayley and Charlotte would play the same character – Eva Delectorskaya – at different ages. Eva’s a Paris-based Russian emigree who is emotionally manipulated by silken schemer Lucas Romer (who may be played by Rufus Sewell) into joining a unit of British Intelligence at the outbreak of World War II.

Eva Delectorskaya may be her real name but, during the war years — when she’ll be played by Hayley — she’ll be known by a host of aliases.

However, when Boyd’s story scoots forward to 1976, Eva has become Sally Gilmartin (the role Charlotte is likely to play), a 66-year-old, thoroughly respectable English grandmother living quietly in a remote Oxfordshire village.

Crucially, though, she hasn’t lost her espionage skills. Sally (or Eva, if you prefer), breaks her code of silence and tells her daughter Ruth (the part rumoured for Michelle) what she did in the war, and how she was caught in a web of duplicity and betrayal.

Mother comes out of the cold and joins forces with her daughter to embark on a deadly assignment.

Edward Hall, artistic director of Hampstead Theatre, has been hired by producer Hilary Bevan Jones and Endor Productions to direct the two-part film drama, which will shoot on location later in the year.

The three leading ladies already have a busy year ahead of them, with Michelle shooting series three of Downton and also playing socialite Princess Myagkaya in Joe Wright’s film of Anna Karenina for Working Title.

Hayley stars with Ray Winstone and Ben Drew in the movie version of The Sweeney, opening in September and, interestingly, she plays Charlotte’s daughter in the murder-mystery movie I, Anna, which was directed by Charlotte’s son, Barnaby Southcombe.

A team of rivals

They're the Fast Girls and they know how to move!

Fast Girls is a winning, flag-waving movie about two rival sprinters: sassy Shania (played by Lenora Crichlow), who runs in old spikes and has none of the advantages of Lisa (Lily James), an entitled brat who has everything but her father’s love.

They loathe each other at first sight when they race for a place in the British athletic team.

Runaway success: Lenora Crichlow (left) and Lily James

Runaway success: Lenora Crichlow (left) and Lily James

Runaway success: Lenora Crichlow (left) and Lily James

A track coach, played by Noel Clarke, puts Shania in the relay sprint team with Lisa and sparks really fly.

The film’s writers – the multi- talented Clarke, Jay Basu and Roy Williams – build up the rivalry between the two young women and invest the tale with enough twists and turns to keep us interested.

Ms Crichlow, who was in the BBC3 drama Being Human and the TV show Sugar Rush, anchors the film beautifully. Her character has the kind of attitude that got my attention.

Ms James’s Lisa looks the perfect blonde, but she has been psychologically wounded by her father and she uses sport as an escape.

The film, which owes a lot to the
template of Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham, has been skilfully
directed by Regan Hall and, even though you know how it will end, my
spirits were lifted, as will the nation’s when it opens here on June 15.

Merlin heartthrob Bradley James,
Lorraine Burroughs (from Dr Who) and newcomers Lashana Lynch, Dominique
Tipper and Hannah Frankson all have important roles.


MICKEY ROURKE will start a three-phase,
12 to 15-week fitness programme in the summer as trainer Nick McKinless
tries to turn the actor into a ‘183lb lean, muscular and explosive rugby
machine  – Gareth Thomas’.

The film, now called The Welshman, will
shoot in the autumn, with Rourke portraying the former rugby

Tom Hardy is high on a wish list of actors to play a
fictitious rugby rival, but it’s early days on that.

Producer Colin
Vaines told me Rourke has worked closely with several top players and

Producer Damian Jones told me the word ‘Olympics’ could not be mentioned in the film for copyright reasons, but it’s a fabulous way to get the country in the mood for the Games, and the picture’s far more exciting than the high-minded, mind-numbing cultural Olympiad events that our artistic betters have planned for us.

‘It’s a great combination of girl power and sporting prowess,’ said Jones, who was behind Meryl Streep’s Oscar-winning The Iron Lady.

The UK Film Council, which has been absorbed by the BFI, developed the picture with backing from film companies StudioCanal and Aegis, plus sponsorship from Aviva, Nike and Puma.

Watch out for…

TOM MISON, Joshua McGuire, Leo Bill, Simon Shepherd, Jolyon Coy and Richard Goulding, who are part the original cast of Laura Wade’s acclaimed play Posh, which had an extended run at the Royal Court Theatre two years ago, and who will now take it into the West End.

The drama, set in Oxford, follows the atrocious behaviour of members of an establishment dining society not unlike (it was said at the time) the real-life toffs’ Bullingdon dining club.

The scary, but altogether fascinating thing for me when I saw it – twice – at the Royal Court was that the audience was full of the kind of hideous, braying people the play was condemning.

James Norton and Harry Hadden-Paton, who were in the original ensemble, are working elsewhere and so alas will not be returning when the play begins performances at the Duke of York’s Theatre on May 11.

Among those joining the new company will be Pip Carter, Max Bennett, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Harry Lister Smith, Edward Killingback, Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt, Jessica Ransom and Charlotte Lucas.

The Beatles, whose legacy is being celebrated with a stage show called Let It Be. It begins performances at the Prince of Wales Theatre from September 14, which is (nearly!) the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ first single, Love Me Do.

The show’s producers have pulled off quite a coup in acquiring the rarely available, first-class theatrical rights to use the Fab Four’s past hits. Let It Be will include Hey Jude, All My Loving, Yesterday, Come Together, I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day’s Night, Strawberry Fields Forever, When I’m 64 and Get Back, to name just a few.

Casting is going on for a group of performers who will sing the numbers against a video wall background. Those of you really into Beatles lore will already know that the Fab Four sang at The Prince Of Wales for the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in the autumn of 1963.

Let It Be has a limited run. It will be followed in early 2013 by the acclaimed Broadway musical The Book Of Mormon.

Felicity Jones, who was the toast of the Sundance Film Festival two years ago with the film Like Crazy.

She’s one of 20 members of the Sundance London Host Committee who will act as special ambassadors when Robert Redford and John Cooper – who run Sundance over in Park City, Utah – bring several films and other events over for the four-day Sundance London Film & Music Festival, running at the 02 in Greenwich from April 26.

Other hosts include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Danny Boyle, Edgar Wright, Gurinder Chadha, Helen Mirren, Idris Elba, Sam Taylor-Wood, Lucy Walker, Samantha Morton and Stephen Frears.