BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Juno Temple"s gearing up for her royal role

Juno Temple's gearing up for her royal role as she plays Princess Margaret in VE Day film

Juno Temple will play the fun-loving Princess Margaret in a movie about how the Queen and her sister celebrated VE Day.

The 22-year-old actress will portray teenage Margaret as she and Elizabeth sneak out of Buckingham Palace to join the mammoth crowds gathered along the Mall and outside the palace.

In the film, called Girls’ Night Out, Elizabeth has an innocent romance (this bit is totally fictional, folks!) with a recently returned soldier, who doesn’t realise he’s hanging out with a princess. The pair even go dancing at the Ritz.

Fun-loving: Juno Temple (pictured) will portray teenage Margaret as she and Elizabeth sneak out of Buckingham Palace

Fun-loving: Juno Temple (pictured) will portray teenage Margaret as she and Elizabeth sneak out of Buckingham Palace

Margaret was only 14 at the time and her behaviour is that of an excited sibling who enjoys a laugh and a shout.

The film will shoot on locations in London in the autumn with (as this column revealed last month) Alexandra Roach playing our future monarch, on a rare night when she was able to let her hair down.

The picture, from Ecosse Films, will be directed by Michael Hoffman, with a nod to Billy Wilder’s Roman Holiday. (That film was actually inspired by Princess Margaret, and starred Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.)

Ms Temple has done a string of independent movies but recently she appeared in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Ms Roach, meanwhile, plays the young Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep portrays Maggie in later years and her performance is a towering achievement that many would like to see rewarded with an Oscar.

People forget that the last time she won was three decades ago.

I go to psychics to help me figure out who’ll walk off with the Oscars (well, it’s as good a method as any!). Check out to help you make your own predictions. It’s bonkers, but fun.

Scott Shepherd will star in Gatz — a six-and-a-half-hour theatrical event about a man in a publisher’s office who finds a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, begins reading it . . . and doesn’t stop till he’s finished.

There are others in the cast (all from the U.S. theatre company The Elevator Repair Service) and all take part in the story of Jay Gatsby of West Egg and his friends at East Egg. We hear about Jay, Daisy, Nick, Tom and the rest at the Noel Coward Theatre for just 23 performances from June 8 as part of the London International Festival of Theatre.

Octavia dines out – with a little help from her friends
There are no signs of Octavia Spencer turning into a wallflower

There are no signs of Octavia Spencer turning into a wallflower

Octavia Spencer has won Oscar and Bafta nominations — plus countless awards — for her portrait of Minny, a maid who is a wizard cook, in the movie The Help. But in real life, she can’t boil an egg.

‘I just don’t cook,’ she told me this week. ‘It’s not something I find interesting, and it stresses me out to even think about it.’

When it’s time to eat she buys a pre-cooked meal or gets herself invited round to her friends Melissa McCarthy (the break-out star of Bridesmaids) or Allison Janney (one of her The Help co-stars) who live five minutes away from Octavia’s Los Angeles home.

‘When an actor tells you he’s killed someone in a scene, it’s just acting — I hope,’ was the way Ms Spencer explained the gulf between her on-screen kitchen skills and her real-life lack thereof.

She welcomes the awards season attention — she just won a Screen Actors Guild best supporting actress gong — because it allows her to meet Hollywood’s top players.

‘I’m thrilled it has elevated me to a point where I meet the George Clooneys, the Brad Pitts, the Clint Eastwoods — and Steven Spielberg! — but I also want to meet the Denzels.’

At the Golden Globes, and other shows, she has been introduced to Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren.

‘The thing is, everybody wants to meet the prettiest girl in the room,’ she said, referring to the actresses who get five months in the public eye during the pre-Oscar shows. ‘But the test will be when the dance is over.’

There are no signs of Octavia turning into a wallflower. At the Sundance Film Festival, I saw her in a new film called Smashed.

And right after the Oscars, at the end of this month, she will play a blackjack dealer/entertainer opposite Russell Brand in a movie directed by Diablo Cody (who won an Oscar for writing Juno, and penned the delicious black comedy Young Adult) and she will star with Tilda Swinton in Snow Piercer, which is shooting in Europe for four months.

She’s pleased The Help has resonated with audiences at a time when people all over the world ‘who are finding their situation no longer tenable, have stood up for themselves and found their voices’.

Octavia’s also grateful for the friendship that has grown between her and The Help co-star Viola Davis. They’ve developed a sisterly bond and become as close as their screen characters Minny and Aibileen.

After they shot The Help, they spoke every other day. Now it’s three or four times a day.

Foreseeing trouble for Russell Grant

Michael Crawford is too much of a gentleman to say it out loud, but the award-winning star is none too happy about what Russell Grant is doing to the role he created in the stage version of The Wizard Of Oz.

Crawford, who gave his last contracted performance as Professor Marvel last Saturday, was alarmed to hear that the show’s director Jeremy Sams, choreographer Arlene Phillips and Grant have changed the show to accommodate a Charleston and a tango, the kind of dances the astrologer was associated with on television’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Michael Crawford

Russell Grant

Gentleman: Michael Crawford (left) is said to be unhappy about what Russell Grant (right) is doing to his role

Grant begins his limited three-month stint in The Wizard Of Oz on Tuesday. ‘It’s making a mockery of what Michael created,’ one senior West End executive told me. ‘Think about it. This is the man who created the Phantom on stage — and many other roles. Now he has someone of the calibre of Russell Grant taking over from him.

‘It’s fine at the end of a pier in Bogstandard-On-Sea — but not the London Palladium!’

The theatre executive added: ‘They might as well put Ann Widdecombe in it, too.’

Ticket sales have dropped 20 per cent since Crawford left and the show now has an advance of 1.8 million — which is paltry for a theatre of the Palladium’s size, especially when you consider that at capacity it can take in 700,000 a week.

Silence is Goldwyn for John Goodman

John Goodman

John Goodman speaks no French — apart from ‘merci’. And Jean Dujardin, his co-star in The Artist, spoke no English when the film was shot.

Goodman says they were caught in their own silent movie: reduced to using sign language and gestures to make themselves understood.

Goodman plays studio mogul Al Zimmer (Harvey Weinstein would be his contemporary counterpart) who wants to usher in the talkies — against the wishes of his leading man George Valentine (Dujardin, whose efforts earned him Oscar and Bafta nominations and a Screen Actors Guild trophy last Sunday).

Goodman studied Sam Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer to prepare for the part.

‘They were tough b*****ds,’ he told me. ‘Goldwyn came out of Eastern Europe and made his way in New York as a glove salesman. Mayer was dealing scrap iron in Canada. They headed west and made it up as they went along.’

The actor, who found fame in Roseanne and several Coen brothers’ pictures (he’s a jazz pianist in their latest, shooting soon) sees The Artist as a tribute to the craftsmanship of making movies, something he hopes isn’t becoming a lost art.

Goodman’s in London, playing a billionaire industrialist in Stephen Poliakoff’s TV drama Dancing On The Edge, which he has been filming with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode and Jacqueline Bisset.

Ivor problem with Novello, says playwright David Hare
David Hare's latest play, starring Anna Chancellor (pictured), is to be transferred into the recently renamed Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End

David Hare's latest play, starring Anna Chancellor (pictured), is to be transferred into the recently renamed Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End

David Hare says he feels ‘very moved’ that his latest play, starring Anna Chancellor, is to be transferred into the recently renamed Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End.

Hare heartily approves of the Pinter (which used to be the Comedy), but worries that the mania for renaming theatres may have got out of hand. ‘Once Ivor Novello’s had a theatre named after him, the bar’s set pretty low, isn’t it’ Hare sniffed.

‘I can think of at least 200 playwrights in the 20th century who wrote better than Ivor Novello,’ Hare continued of the composer known in his heyday for light musical comedies.

Hare himself has a theatre named after him — at a sixth-form college in Bexhill, East Sussex, from whence he hails. ‘I went to open it,’ he told me. ‘It’s lovely!’

The playwright’s new work, South Downs, which opened to rave reviews last autumn at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, was written as a companion piece to Terence Rattigan’s classic The Browning Version. They ran as a double bill, with Ms Chancellor and Nicholas Farrell playing leading roles in both.

The productions, directed by Jeremy Herrin and Angus Jackson, had to wait for Chancellor to complete the second series of BBC2’s The Hour before opening.

Now they will run at the Harold Pinter from April 19. The plays complement each other beautifully and I was totally absorbed when I saw them in Chichester.

South Downs is set at Lancing, where Hare was a pupil half-a-century ago. The central character is John Blakemore, a precocious and lonely boy who doesn’t understand the rules — but who feels everybody else does. ‘It happens in society all the time,’ says Hare.

Rattigan’s play centres on the brilliant classics master Crocker-Harris (Farrell, who played Tony Blair in Hare’s play Stuff Happens), so Hare wanted to concentrate on a pupil. What links them is an act of kindness.

In The Browning Version, a boy gives ‘the Crock’ a translation of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, while in Hare’s piece the kindness is bestowed on Blakemore (wonderful newcomer Alex Lawther) by Chancellor and her son (Jonathan Bailey).

Hare is writing two films to follow on from his BBC2 spy thriller Page Eight. Bill Nighy will return, as — Hare hopes — will Judy Davis and Rachel Weisz.

Feminist twist: Lily Collins' character in the new movie Mirror Mirror

Feminist twist: Lily Collins' character in the new movie Mirror Mirror

Lily Collins says new movie Mirror
Mirror, in which she plays Snow White opposite Julia Roberts’s wicked
queen, has a feminist twist to make it more appealing to modern

‘She ends up saving a prince, just as
much as he ends up saving her,’ Lily (pictured in the film) told me in

Lily went to stunt school for a month before filming started in
Montreal. ‘I did sword fighting, fencing, martial combat and, during the
filming, my story parallels Snow White’s because I was growing up,
too,’ said the 22-year-old, whose mother Jill is a friend of mine from
the days when she lived in the UK and was married to Phil Collins.

Watch out for…

Rebecca Hall and Eric Bana, who will play former lovers forced to work together in a suspense thriller that was originally called Closed, but is now untitled.

The Working Title/Focus Features film will shoot in the UK and be directed by John Crowley, of Boy A fame, using a screenplay by Steven Knight, who wrote Eastern Promises and Dirty Pretty Things.

Jordan Dawes and Matthew Tennyson, two up-and-coming actors who will be part of the company that director Peter Gill is assembling for three short plays by Robert Holman, going under the umbrella title Making Noise Quietly, which will begin performances at the Donmar Theatre from April 19.

It’s the second play under Josie Rourke’s artistic directorship. She replaced Michael Grandage, whose final production Richard II (with the superb Eddie Redmayne) has its last performance tomorrow, which will be a special tribute to Grandage.

Others cast in the Holman work include Susan Brown (she’s in HBO’s Game Of Thrones), John Hollingsworth, Ben Batt and Sara Kestelman.

Daniel Boys, Clive Rowe, Tiffany Graves, Kerry Ellis, Peter Polycarpou and Bonnie Langford (in a special number choreographed by Andrew Wright), who are among those taking part in The Night Of 1,000 Voices.

The annual fundraising concert for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research will be held at the Royal Albert Hall on May 6.

Director Hugh Wooldridge revealed that the concert will feature numbers from The Lion King, Les Miserables and Evita, to name just a few.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway have signalled that they will participate if they can — but they are at the mercy of the shooting schedules for the movie version of Les Mis which, by the way, has finally officially signed Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier.

Samantha Spiro, the two-time Olivier award winning actress, who will play the fiery Katherina in a new production of The Taming Of The Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe. Toby Frow will direct at the Globe from June 23. Ms Spiro featured in Stephen Sondheim’s Company in Sheffield, which ended last month.

From March 15, she will play the title role in Filumena at the Almeida, directed by Michael Attenborough. And from there she will go into rehearsals for Taming Of The Shrew.