Famous for playing French noblewoman the Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons, Glenn Close will next play the Russian grand duchess Anastasia Romanov in The Duchess... except it's not quite that simple. Close will actually be playing Anna Anderson, one of several imposters who claimed to be Anastasia in the decades before the fact of her 1918 assassination was finally proved. Arie Posin (The Chumscrubber) will direct this new version of Anderson's story.
If you're unfamiliar with the history, Anastasia was killed along with most of her family, including her sisters and father Tsar Nicholas II, by the Bolshevik secret police in July, 1918. But the location of her death remained unknown (only finally discovered in 2007), leading to rumours of her escape that endured for decades - immortalised, among other things, in the cartoon Anastasia in the 1990s.
Anderson was institutionalised in Berlin after a suicide attempt in 1920, and began claiming she was Anastasia in 1922. Despite much scepticism her fantasy endured and she garnered many supporters. She remained in Berlin until 1968 when she emigrated to the USA and married Virginia history professor Jack Manahan, who enjoyed calling himself the Tsar's son-in-law. Over the next twenty years the pair became well known eccentrics around their local Charlottesville.
The Duchess will pick up the story here, fashioning a darkly comedic road trip movie out of an incident in 1983. In failing health, Anderson was hospitalised, only for Manahan to stage a kidnap/rescue. The couple then went on the run around rural Virginia for three days, prompting a police alarm across thirteen states. The film's hook, according to Deadline, is that they were enjoying "the honeymoon they never had".
Posin wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Kazin (Reversal Of Fortune), and as well as reuniting Close with her Chumscrubber director, the film sees her working once again with her Albert Nobbs producers Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn. Shooting will take place in Virginia, but there's no start date and no Manahan so far.