Two-time Oscar nominee Keira Knightley is in early talks to play Russian empress Catherine the Great in a biopic that Barbra Streisand will direct for producer Gil Netter’s Netter Productions, TheWrap has exclusively learned.
Kristina Lauren Anderson wrote the script, which topped the 2014 Black List of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays.
Netter and representatives for Knightley did not respond to requests for comment.
Catherine the Great was born Sophia Augusta Fredericka to German royalty and took power when her husband was assassinated, ruling from 1762 to 1796 while modernizing the Russian empire.
The film will follow young Catherine, who was trapped in an abusive marriage with the heir of the Russian throne — a role that is currently being cast now.
Besides a beloved Black List script, “Catherine the Great” boasts significant pedigree between Netter, who has two Oscar nominations for producing “Life of Pi” and “The Blind Side,” and Streisand, who won a Golden Globe for directing “Yentl” and has two Oscars of her own. Streisand’s films have received a total of 14 Oscar nominations.
Knightley earned two Oscar nominations herself thanks to her work in “The Imitation Game” and “Pride & Prejudice.” The British actress was last seen in “Everest” and will soon begin filming New Line’s “Collateral Beauty” with Will Smith. She’s also set to star as French novelist Colette in a film from “Still Alice” director Wash Westmoreland.
Knightley, like Streisand, is represented by CAA along with MGMT Entertainment and United Agents.