It's still a little hard to get used to the news that Bill Murray-- yes, that Bill Murray, who seems only half-interested in acting these days-- is preparing to play Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park On Hudson, a glossy new historical drama from Focus Features and Notting Hill director Roger Michell. Production on the film started today in the U.K., and everything else about the press release has all the prestige film pieces in place-- Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt, respected British actors Samuel West and Olivia Colman as the King and Queen of England, and Laura Linney as FDR's distant cousin and mistress Daisy. The story is set when the King and Queen visited FDR at his estate on the Hudson River, the first time a reigning English monarch had ever visited the United States (those Revolutionary War wounds run deep). They're looking for support as World War II starts taking shape in Europe, but with Daisy's presence in Hyde Park upsetting everything socially, everyone seems to focus more on the unrest at home.
See what I mean about all the prestige trappings? And that's before we even get to the fact that they're planning a "second half of 2012" release for the film, which hints at Oscar season to me. And yet, in the middle of all of this, there's Bill Murray playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the casting that's so strange I have to assume Michell knows something we don't about how brilliant it will turn out. At least we know Murray isn't in it for the money-- not only is this the kind of indie production that doesn't really promise back-end profits, but the guy works infrequently enough that you know he's following his heart, even though it leads him in some strange directions. I know none of you saw him in the Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox vehicle Passion Play-- and trust me, you don't want to-- but damn if he didn't seem to belong there somehow anyway. Hyde Park on Hudson sounds like the kind of movie I'd like to see anyway, if only because I'm one of the few people who adored Michell's last film Morning Glory, but the added X-factor of Murray means I'll be there with bells on. I assume you guys are also intrigued enough that I'm not alone here.
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