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Exclusive: Emmerich On Anonymous
Thewlis, Redgrave and Ifans Sign Up

25 February 2010  |  Written by Phil de Semlyen  

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Fresh from annihilating the entire planet in 2012, Roland Emmerich is soon to set to work on the reputation of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, with Anonymous.

It’s a major departure for Emmerich, who’s abandoning global cataclysms and puppies-in-peril for sonnets and subterfuge, and swapping CGI for live action. Anonymous tackles the thorny theory that's circulated for the past 100 years that Shakespeare’s plays were, in fact, written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. The director divulged his cast of Elizabeth types when we caught up with him.

“We have Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth; David Thewlis as William Cecil, old and young; and Rhys Ifans as The Earl Of Oxford. It’s a true English cast and I’m really proud of it. There’s 12 main characters and 20 or 30 other characters, and each of the characters is really good.”

The (admittedly Welsh) Ifans will be playing the key figure in this literary intrigue. Oxford, a playwright, poet and patron of the arts, fell under the influential shadow of Robert Cecil, the Queen’s secretary of state, a key player in Elizabethan politics and the man widely thought to be the inspiration for Hamlet’s Polonius.

So how does Emmerich describe Anonymous? “It’s a mix of a lot of things: it’s an historical thriller because it’s about who will succeed Queen Elizabeth and the struggle of the people who want to have a hand in it. It’s the Tudors on one side and the Cecils on the other, and in between [the two] is the Queen. Through that story we tell how the plays written by the Earl of Oxford ended up labelled 'William Shakespeare'.”

It’s the grassy knoll of literary conspiracies and not exactly the material you’d expect Emmerich to tackle (unless he’s secretly planning to blow up Stratford), but the results should be intriguing. Shooting starts in Berlin in March.


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Your Comments

I've studied this subject for the last 15 years under Ruth Miller until her passing and I'm happy that it's finally moving forward. It's long over due. More

Posted by Jerrry at 13:42 on 14 April 2010 | Report This Post

Anonymous by Emmerich
Within the Oxfordian movement (scholars who have proven Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford wrote the Shake-Speare canon) we still disagree about critical facts in this suppressed history of the early English state. But one thing we all agree about is that the Stratford Shakspere had nothing to do with the noble works we read and view today. He was a promoter, producer, money-lender, property-owner, but never the writer who wrote the works, de Vere, whose pseudonym Shake-Speare, meaningful to More

Posted by zweigenbaum at 06:50 on 12 March 2010 | Report This Post

Hooray for aka
Ever since reading Mark Anderson's "Shakespeare by Another Name", I am convinced that Edward De Vere was Shakespeare by another name. I would like the movie to deal with DeVere's similarities to Shakespeare's wastrel, Prince Hal, and DeVere''s world tour entourage to the places "Shakespeare" eventually placed his works. The trip was paid for by selling his own land to see others. I now read/hear the Bard as a player and confident in Elizabeth's court not an outsider. An More

Posted by simplysimon2 at 16:31 on 25 February 2010 | Report This Post

Turning over a new page
Thank heavens he isn't making another disaster movie because 2012 was a complete and utter disaster compared to The Day After Tomorrow. This could be good and don't think anyone of us saw this coming till now. More

Posted by nybras at 14:23 on 25 February 2010 | Report This Post

Makes total sense to me...but then I am clinically insane. More

Posted by Youshouldberunning at 14:06 on 25 February 2010 | Report This Post

Pass
Considering this is coming from one of the least subtle directors in Hollywood this has as much promise as the prospect of Michael Bay shooting War and Peace. At least we've been spared the 2012 series for now. More

Posted by granny at 11:43 on 25 February 2010 | Report This Post

christ, this is a departure, I thought he'd be more comfortable making a sequel to Moon 44, this sounds quite interesting. More

Posted by 62Parker at 11:23 on 25 February 2010 | Report This Post

Didn't see that one coming. More

Posted by dunkah at 11:14 on 25 February 2010 | Report This Post


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