Daisy Ridley to Star in Shakespeare Movie Before ‘Star Wars IX’ Return

The “Force Awakens” actress will play Ophelia opposite Naomi Watts’ Queen Gertrude in a reimagining of “Hamlet”

Last Updated: May 4, 2016 @ 11:02 AM

Before she reprises her role in Colin Trevorrow‘s “Star Wars: Episode IX,” Daisy Ridley will shoot an indie movie titled “Ophelia” that reimagines William Shakespeare‘s classic play “Hamlet,” it was announced Wednesday.

Set in the 14th century but spoken in a contemporary voice, the film explores the untold story of Ophelia (Ridley) and her tragic romance with Hamlet, as well as her relationship with his mother, Queen Gertrude, who will be played by two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts. As war brews, lust and betrayal are tearing Elsinore Castle apart and Ophelia must decide between her true love and her own life in order to protect a very dangerous secret.

Claire McCarthy (“The Waiting City”) will direct from a script by Semi Chellas (“Mad Men”), who adapted the award-winning novel by Lisa Klein.

Covert Media is financing the film, which is being produced by Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger and Sarah Curtis. Covert is also handling international rights to the film. CAA, which packaged and arranged the financing, will represent the film’s U.S. rights. The project was brought to Covert Media by its VP of production and development Elissa Friedman.

“‘Ophelia’ is brimming with youth-fueled charisma, exploring the nature of true love and beauty, and I’m so excited to bring this fresh mythic spin to Hamlet from a female perspective,” said McCarthy.  “This retelling will be experienced through the eyes of Ophelia and has the kind of romance, complexity and suspense that makes this beloved story exciting to younger audiences,” she continued.

“Sarah, Ehren & I have always treated this film like a jewel, since there’s something extra precious in bringing to life a treasured female icon, celebrated for centuries as an alluring figure in the shadows of Shakespeare’s most famous work, without ever really having her own story told,” added Bobker. “Whether it’s for the legions of fans of romantic tragic characters, or the millions of visitors who annually seek out the classic Millais painting of Ophelia at London’s Tate Gallery, Ophelia holds a special place in the heart of the cultural canon—so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the talented female team of Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, and Claire McCarthy set to make a film with our friends at Covert Media that’ll finally shed light on a character who’s fascinated so many for so long.”

“Claire is an exciting, new directing talent. In ‘The Waiting City,’ she beautifully brought to life rich characters through strong performances in an exotic setting. ‘Ophelia’ will tap into the same unique strengths to create a rich, thrilling and vital world inhabited by the incomparable Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts,” said Covert Media CEO Paul Hanson.

McCarthy’s “The Waiting City” starred Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell, and premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. In her most recent work, the omnibus feature “The Turning,” she directed the centerpiece segment starring Rose Byrne.

Ridley is currently filming Rian Johnson‘s “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” and she’s expected to return for “Episode IX,” which is due on May 24, 2019. In addition to “Ophelia,” she’s attached to star in Marielle Heller‘s “Kolma,” which J.J. Abrams is producing for Paramount, as well as the Holocaust drama “The Lost Wife,” based on the book by Alyson Richman. Ridley is also an executive producer on the documentary “The Eagle Huntress,” which premiered at Sundance this year and will be released by Sony Picture Classics.

Watts recently starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in “Demolition” and will next star alongside Brie Larson in Destin Daniel Cretton‘s “The Glass Castle.” She’s also set to star in and executive produce the Netflix series GYPSY. Additionally, Watts will soon be seen as Elle Fanning‘s mother in “About Ray,” alongside Matthew McConaughey in Gus Van Sant‘s “Sea of Trees,” in the psychological thriller “Shut In” and finally, in Trevorrow’s “The Book of Henry,” which serves as the director’s follow-up to “Jurassic World.”

CAA represents Ridley and Watts, who is also repped by Untitled Entertainment.

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