As the success of Atonement continues apace, it's clear that audiences still crave a good British period drama. And in recent months, movie making here in England has reached a fever pitch. Director Saul Dibb's upcoming The Duchess stars Atonement's Keira Knightley as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Devonshire. Up-and-coming actress Hayley Atwell plays Lady Elizabeth ("Bess") Foster, the woman who lived in an an infamous menage-a-trois with the couple. It has escaped nobody here that Georgiana's crowded marriage echoes Princess Di's, so anticipation is high.
Atwell also pops up in Brideshead Revisted, director Julian Jarrold's re-telling of Evelyn Waugh's novel. The brunette Brit takes on an inky flapper's bob to play Julia Flyte, the love interest of protagonist Charles Ryder. Meanwhile, the early life of Queen Victoria gets the Hollywood treatment in Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt. As Sarah Ferguson is on board as a producer, it's only fitting that her daughter Princess Beatrice should bag a role in the film, even though she does have to take something of a demotion in rank, playing a lady in waiting.
There are more Brit costume dramas in the pipeline, too: Evan Rachel Wood, Natalie Press and Rebecca Hall are set to play the three Bronte sisters (shooting on the Yorkshire Moors starts later this year). And Scarlett Johansson will be crowned as Mary, Queen of Scots in Phillip Noyce's forthcoming tale of the ill-fated monarch.
The Duchess Photo by Nick Wall, Copyright: (c) 2007 by PARAMOUNT VANTAGE, a Division of PARAMOUNT PICTURES. All Rights Reserved.