Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench Trying On Kenneth Branagh's Italian Shoes

Anthony Hopkins in Hearts In Atlantis
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Big casting news for Kenneth Branagh’s next directorial effort, Italian Shoes. Anthony Hopkins and Dame Judi Dench reportedly are close to signing on for the lead roles, playing former lovers who work to complete a dying woman’s wish, Variety reports.

Branagh's decision to pass on the chance to helm Thor 2 took me by surprise. The filmmaker poured his heart into Asgard’s warrior, crafting a stellar origin story that I’d thought he’d want to explore further. But he admitted in subsequent interviews that he hoped to transition from large-scale superhero epics to a small-scale character drama, and his selection continues to take shape.

Adding Hopkins and Dench to this project would be ideal for Branagh, giving the director two incredible talents for his material. Italian Shoes will be adapted by screenwriter Richard Cottan from the Swedish novel by author Henning Mankell. Branagh, who is scheduled to begin shooting toward the end of 2012, says that the parts are "tailor-made" for these Oscar-winning actors, and he has been developing the material with the two in mind.

"The nuance, delicacy and flavor is so based on the perfect casting," he said, adding that their casting "takes advantage of my long relationship with the pair of them."

Obviously, Branagh directed Hopkins in Thor. But he also co-starred with Dench in My Week With Marilyn, and directed her in both Henry V and Hamlet. Even without these previous relationships, however, it sounds like the roles in Mankell’s novel are custom-built for Dench and Hopkins, and with Branagh and the helm, this drama sounds potentially wonderful.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.