Dame Judi Dench And Steve Coogan To Co-Star In Stephen Frears' Philomena

Dame Judi Dench stands in the open crying in Philomena.
(Image credit: TWC)

It would seem that Stephen Frears is in the mood to do nothing but work. While is latest film, Lay The Favorite, hasn't even hit US theaters yet (following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January), he has already completed production on the drama Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, and now it's being reported that he's set up the cast for his next project as well.

Variety has learned that the British filmmaker has hired Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan to star in Philomena, a new projects based on the Martin Sixsmith book "The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a 50 Year Search." Based on a true story, the plot follows Lee as she teams up with Sixsmith to try and find the illegitimate son that she was forced to give up while living in a Catholic home for unmarried mothers in Ireland. Meanshile, it turned out that her son had become Michael Hess, a Republican politician and closeted homosexual who had been diagnosed with AIDS. With the knowledge that he was dying, he actually traveled to Ireland to try and get the nuns at the Catholic home to reveal his mother's identity.

Coogan, who co-wrote the film with Jeff Pope, will play the role of Sixsmith while Dench will play Lee. Said Coogan about the story, "The film is a comic tragedy or a tragic comedy. It's about two very different people, at different stages of their lives, who help each other and show that there is laughter even in the darkest places."

Frears plans to shoot the film next month in London, Northern Ireland and Washington, D.C. and Pathe has already signed on to handle worldwide sales and distribution in the U.K. and France.

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