Joe Wright to Direct Mussolini TV Series ‘M’ From ‘Bones and All’ Producer Lorenzo Mieli (EXCLUSIVE)
Joe Wright (Courtesy of Getty Images)
British director Joe Wright, who helmed Winston Churchill drama “Darkest Hour” – which earned Gary Oldman an Oscar for his portrayal as the British prime minister – is set to change historical sides and direct TV drama “M,” which chronicles Benito Mussolini’s rise to power.
The high-end series, which is based on Antonio Scurati’s Premio Strega-winning and international bestselling novel “M. Son of the Century,” traces the birth of Fascism in Italy and Mussolini’s ascent with an innovative approach that has sparked debate about the Fascist dictator’s legacy in Italy and abroad.
“The writer understood and put on paper, with facts and documents and everything, that Mussolini is the guy – him and only him – who created what we now know as populism and Fascism,” said the show’s producer Lorenzo Mieli, speaking in Venice, where he is among producers of Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All.”
The previously announced eight-part series – which will soon start shooting at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios – is being produced by Sky Studios and Mieli’s Fremantle-backed company The Apartment in collaboration with Pathé.
“M” is written by Stefano Bises (“Gomorrah,” “The New Pope”) in collaboration with Davide Serino (“1992”).
The cast is being kept under wraps, though Mieli says Mussolini will be played by an A-list talent.
“Luca is the most international director we have in Italy,” Mieli said, speaking about Guadagnino on the Lido.
“The idea that with a bunch of [other] producers and Italian financiers we made a movie that is not Italian at all, in a way reflects what I am trying to do,” Mieli said, referring to the fact that “Bones and All” stars Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell as cannibal lovers on a road trip across America in the 1980s and was shot in Ohio. “Because I increasingly focus on Italian filmmakers who either already are – or will be the future – voices in the international landscape,” Mieli added, explaining his increasingly international approach to production.
“On the other hand what I think has been missing in the past couple of decades in the Italian landscape are [Italian] producers who deal with international filmmakers in general,” he added.
Case in point is Mieli’s choice of Joe Wright to helm “M.”
“Fascism is something that today is relevant for everyone. It’s been relevant for the past decades, but it’s especially relevant now all over the world,” Mieli said. “And it’s interesting because before Trump the U.S. and Anglo-Saxon culture thought Fascism was something that was not on their radar. But now it is,” he added. “That’s why I thought of an Anglo-Saxon director [for ‘M’].”
More specifically Mieli thinks Wright is perfect for “M” because “I love the way he’s dealt with politics [in ‘Darkest Hour’] and I love the way he changes genres. Wright’s works also comprise “Atonement,” “The Soloist” and most recently “Cyrano,” and described it as being “dark and scary” but also “very pop and musical.”
He said Wright “fell in love with the material” and is “working in Rome now, dealing with one of the worst and most iconic characters in our history.”
Variety's Nick Vivarelli contributed to this post.