Christoph Waltz to Star as ‘Sunset Blvd.’ Director Billy Wilder in Stephen Frears Biopic

Christopher Hampton adapted the screenplay ‘Billy Wilder and Me’ from Jonathan Coe’s book

Christoph Waltz Stephen Frears Billy Wilder
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Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz will portray legendary Old Hollywood director Billy Wilder in a biographical film from director Stephen Frears, the film’s producer Jeremy Thomas announced Monday.

“Billy Wilder and Me” is part coming-of-age-story and part true-life portrait about a young woman who begins working with Wilder during the filming of “Fedora” on a Greek island in 1977. But as she continues with him to Germany to continue the shoot, she finds herself joining him on a journey into the memory of his family history. The Austrian-Hungarian born Wilder is the director of such masterpieces as “Sunset Blvd.,” “The Apartment,” “Some Like It Hot,” “Double Indemnity” and many more.

Christopher Hampton, who is collaborating with Frears for the third time after working together on “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Cheri,” wrote the script based on the novel “Mr. Wilder and Me” from author Jonathan Coe.

Waltz will play Wilder, and other casting will be announced shortly. Production will commence in the spring of 2023 in Greece, Munich and Paris.

Frears is also reuniting with Thomas after working together on the road movie “The Hit” in 1984. Co-producers on “Billy Wilder and Me” are Reinhard Brundig and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos.

Billy Wilder
circa 1965: Austrian-Hungarian-born director Billy Wilder (1906 – 2002) smiles while sitting in front of a cameraman on one of his film sets. The cameraman looks through the viewfinder on a Panavision motion picture camera. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Thomas’ last film, Jerzy Skolimowski’s “EO,” just won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“Europe and Hollywood. Hollywood and Europe. The most interesting dilemma in the cinema,” Frears said of the project.

“Billy Wilder said ‘You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.’ A Stephen Frears movie from a Christopher Hampton script produced by Jeremy Thomas should do the trick for me,” Waltz added

“From the time of our first meeting in Los Angeles in the early eighties, Billy Wilder was extremely kind and encouraging to me. Jonathan Coe’s wonderful novel has provided the perfect opportunity to express my gratitude and my admiration for one of the undisputed giants of cinema history,” Hampton added.

Frears most recently directed episodes of “State of the Union” and “A Very English Scandal,” and his next feature expected for release later this year is “The Lost King” with Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan.

Waltz most recently starred in “No Time to Die” and “The French Dispatch.”