Mamma Mia! star Stellan Skarsgard is close to signing on to Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella blockbuster, joining a cast that features Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. The Scandinavian star is in talks to play the king's adviser in the ambitious live-action adaptation of the beloved fairytale, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Lily James will play the title character in the film, to be directed by Branagh, and Game of Thrones hunk Richard Madden has been cast as the story's Prince.
Blanchett will portray the wicked stepmother, Bonham Carter the fairy godmother, and Downton Abbey star Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger will play stepsisters.
Helena Bonham Carter is set to reunite with her ex-boyfriend Kenneth Branagh as the Fairy Godmother in a new movie version of classic fairytale Cinderella. Branagh will direct the live-action fantasy, which will feature Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother and Lily James as Cinderella.
Reports suggest Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, Downton Abbey's Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger are also in talks for roles in the project.
Downton Abbey star Sophie Mcshera is reportedly in talks to play one of Cinderella's ugly sisters in Kenneth Branagh's star-studded movie adaptation of the classic fairytale. Lily James and Cate Blanchett have already been cast as the title character and her evil stepmother, respectively, and now it appears McShera will team up with The Borgias' Holliday Grainger to play the live action film's selfish siblings, Drisella and Anastasia.
McShera is best known as Downton Abbey's moody maid Daisy Mason.
Game of Thrones star Richard Madden has landed the coveted role of Prince Charming in Branagh's film.
For the first part of The Borgias Season 3, it seemed like Rome was doomed. Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) seemed to be building alliances that threated the very existence of The Borgia Pope (Jeremy Irons), Rodrigo Borgia's dynasty. And with Juan Borgia dead at the end of Season 2, the Pope's army was basically destroyed. But, the pope's other son, Cesare Borgia (Francois Arnaud), has made it his mission this summer to take control and get Rome back on her feet.
After last week's episode, it was clear that the tides are shifting and that Cesare's plan to build a massive army is in action. But, the episode did leave some questions. Is Cesare building an army to support his father or to take his own power over Italy?
Until those questions are answered, here is the status on the two opposing armies in Italy at this point in the season.
Rome and Her Allies:
Leader: Pope Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia
Army's Commander: Cesare Borgia is the Pope's son.
Allies: 1. Michelleto (Sean Harris): Cesare's manservant who executes all of Cesare's evil plans. He is now watching over Cesare's sister-lover, Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger), in Naples.2. France: Cesare went to France and annulled the French King's marriage. In return, he got a French bride and a French army.3. Band of Italy's Bastard Sons: The second and illegitimate sons of Italy's greatest families have sided with Cesare instead of Caterina Sforza.
Lost Allies:Rome has the advantage right now.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Cesare won France to Rome's side. This means that he has to give them Milan and Naples, though.2. Cesare has also stolen the band of Italy's bastard sons from the enemy.
Disadvantages:1. It almost seems like Cesare is trying to build an army to support himself and not his father. This could create a division within Rome.
Leader: Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee)
Army's Commander: Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) is Caterina's lackey.
Allies: 1. No new allies at this point.
Lost Allies:1. Italy's wealthy families are now supporting Cesare.2. The King of Naples is now dead.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Leaving Milan's doors open to Cesare's army and leaving the city empty of defense.
Disadvantages:1. Lost alliances.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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We are about to be three episodes deep into Season 3 of the Showtime series The Borgias and so far, it's clear that the world is against Rome. At the end of Season 2, we were left wondering if the Borgia Pope's enemies had succeeded in killing him. But during Episode 1 of this season, we learned that like a cockroach, the Pope can survive just about anything. He even came back to life after facing one of the deadliest poisons known at the time. But just because he is alive and now well doesn't mean that his enemies have given up the plan to take his life. In fact, this season, it seems like even more enemies have ganged up against Rodrigo Borgia and his unholy ways.
At the end of Episode 2, it was clear that Rome is heading towards war. But who is on whose side this week? Because The Borgias' shifting alliances always leave you scratching your heads, we're here to help you track where the battle lines are drawn. Who hates who? And what should their strategies be? Read on to find out!
Rome and Her Allies:
Leader: Pope Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons): The Borgia pope is hated in the Roman Empire for his greed and the use of God to promote his illegitimate family.
Army's Commander: Cesare Borgia (Francois Arnaud) is the Pope's son and a former Cardinal who is now in charge of the Papal army.
Allies: 1. Michelleto (Sean Harris): Cesare's manservant who executes all of Cesare's evil plans.2. Cardinal Sforza (Peter Sullivan): He switched to the Pope's side when the Pope lived after being poisoned. The Pope has used this cardinal to help eliminate the enemy cardinals.3. Possible: Cardinal Farneze: We have yet to meet this character, but since the Pope's affair with Giulia Farneze has come to an end, she has asked him to make her brother a Cardinal — and Giulia and the Pope ended their affair on good terms.4. Possible: France: Unlike last season, France is in bed with the Pope. A new king rules France and is stuck in a marriage to a quite undesirable woman. When the French Ambassador asked the Pope to dissolve the King's marriage, Borgia saw this as an opportunity to create a new allie. Now, he plans on marrying Cesare to a French woman to build the alliance.
Lost Allies:1. Prince Alfonso (Augustus Prew): Alfonso refused to bed Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger) on their wedding night because he felt jaded by her family's intentions for the union. Alfonso instead spent their wedding night alone and crying as Lucrezia gave herself to her brother Cesare.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. The Pope plans to pin Juan Borgias' (Rodrigo's second son who Cesare actually killed during Season 2) murder on Caterina. 2. The Pope eliminated the cardinals in the conclave who did not support the Borgia initiative. This was done by stripping them of their titles, riches, and property.
Disadvantages:1. The Papal army is defunct and not well manned.
Leader: Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) and her family are openly against the Pope and his evil ways.
Army's Commander: Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) is Caterina's lackey who is in charge of building the Sforza alliances.
Allies: 1. Wealthy Families of Rome who hate the Borgias: Last week, Caterina assigned Rufio to start aligning the sons of Rome's prominent families to help her take down the Pope. The division was clearly shown at Lucrezia's wedding during Episode 2.2. King of Naples: Lucrezia's union with Alfonso was supposed to mean that Rome and Naples would be united, but because Lucrezia refused to part with her illegitimate son when she moved to Naples, Alfonso's uncle (the King of Naples) decided to pledge his allegiance to Caterina.
Lost Allies:1. Cardinal Orsini (David Dencik): After the Pope stripped him of his title, Orsini asked for a final confession. During this confession, he tried to kill the Pope. Instead, the Pope took out Orsini.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Create allies with all the forces in Rome that hate the Pope.2. By creating these alliances, it's clear that Caterina will have a larger and more dedicated army as opposed to the depleted papal forces.
Disadvantages:1. The Borgias never seem to die.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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Forget that the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's sweeping romance novel comes from the man who brought us the slick-but-stuffy Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Every frame of director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a wonder to behold overflowing with visual spectacle and roaring performances. Keira Knightley Jude Law Aaron Taylor-Johnson and the rest of the cast fit perfectly in the high drama epic but it's really Wright's playground. Following Hanna an artful spin on the action movie Wright returns to the period drama but injects it with dazzling daring choices. A book like Anna Karenina could once fit in reality but its larger-than-life legacy precedes it. Wright acknowledges that from frame one approaching the film like a grand ballet or opera where grand gestures broad emotions and overt theatrics are commonplace. That vision clicks transforming Anna Karenina into an exhilarating moviegoing experience.
The storyline of Anna Karenina isn't far off from a daytime soap: It's 1874 and Anna (Knightley) is floating through existence as the wife of influential government player Karenin (Law). But when her brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) summons her to Moscow to save his marriage Anna's entire world is shaken up. She meets Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson) a cavalry hunk who finds himself smitten with the taken lady. She's in the same boat: The two strike up a flirtatious relationship that evolves into one of sexual passion. A scandalous affair would incite trouble in the preset day but in the 19th century it's the ultimate crime. Quickly Anna's life comes crumbling down.
The intertwining melodrama of Anna Karenina earned the novel its classic status but Wright uses the material as a launching pad for imagination rather than a tome to translate to screen. Many of the scenes are staged in a theater creating an instant awareness of the production. Sets shift and are reconstructed into new rooms; actors costume change in the span of single shots; action sequences like a thrilling horse race are conducted on stage with special effects you might see on Broadway. Wright works this sort of stylization in the other direction too; a character could walk an empty stage open a door and suddenly be on a snow-covered hill. Anna Karenina isn't the first film to use the effect but in Wright's hands it's exhilarating.
The movie is Wright's third collaboration with Knightley and easily their most successful. Knightley never struggles to stay on the same page as the heightened material whether she's nailing a dance sequence or breaking down in a flood of tears. Casting an ensemble around Knightley is no easy task but Taylor-Johnson gives his best work yet as the debonair love interest and Macfadyen steals the show with moments of physical comedy.
We have expectations of the texture and structure of period romances. Anna Karenina defies them. Masterpiece Theater it is not.