When you’re making a movie that features one of the most important women of the last century or so, you don’t want to fill that role with an unproven actress, or worse, an actress who has proven herself to be lawbreaking garbage. For the role of world-renowned activist Emmeline Pankhurst, Ruby Film’s upcoming drama Suffragette won out by landing awards magnet Meryl Streep, who is one of three new cast members joining the film, along with The Guard’s Brendan Gleeson and Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw. Big feminism-driven dramas don’t always capture my attention, but this one sounds as good as it gets.
Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan as a woman named Maude, who is a worker bee in the growing feminism movement of the early 20th century. She turns radical and starts looking to violence as a way to further the cause. According to ScreenDaily, Streep’s involvement will be small but notable, as she will give a women’s rights speech during a political rally that gets everyone gung ho, as Pankhurst was known for pushing military tactics to protest gender inequality. Disappointingly, no descriptions are given for the characters Gleeson and Whishaw will be playing. Dare I say they’re the enemy in this female-fronted film?
This Pathe, Film4 and BFI production is the second narrative feature for director Sarah Gavron, who worked with Suffragette’s screenwriter Abi Morgan on her first film, Brick Lane. Morgan also penned the script for 2011’s The Iron Lady, for which Streep won the Best Actress award for her work as Margaret Thatcher, and she created the 2011 Cold War drama The Hour, which co-starred Whishaw. It’s always nice when great talents like these get the chance to reconnect on equally powerful projects.
Streep only made it to the screen once in 2013 for John Wells’ August: Osage County, but she made it count and received an Oscar nomination for playing an eccentric cancer-ridden matriarch. She’s already wrapped three films coming out this year: Tommy Lee Jones’ pioneer drama The Homesman, Rob Marshall’s musical adaptation of Into the Woods and Phillip Noyce’s adaptation of the young adult classic The Giver.
We’ll try not to think about Gleeson’s part in The Smurfs 2, and instead focus on the darkly comedic drama Calvary which made some fans at Sundance last month. He’ll next be seen in Brad Anderson’s asylum thriller Eliza Graves and Ron Howard’s waterbound drama Heart of the Sea, which will also star Whishaw as Herman Melville. Whishaw will next appear in Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem and Christian Camargo’s Days and Nights, a dramatic update of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull.
Also starring Helena Bonham-Carter, Romola Garai, Anne-Marie Duff, Geoff Bell and Natalie Press, Suffragette will begin filming in the U.K. on Monday, February 24th, making this final bit of casting quite timely. Sounds like it would make a good double feature with Spice World, no?