Very little information has emerged about Mike Leigh’s forthcoming, currently untitled biopic about British painter J.M.W. Turner, but the prospect of Leigh reteaming with Timothy Spall is motivation enough for me to keep an eye out for this film. Today, we have a first look at Spall in costume as Turner, which you can check out above.
Leigh has worked with Spall many times before, on films including Secrets & Lies, Topsy-Turvy, All or Nothing, Life Is Sweet and Home Sweet Home, though the Turner biopic will mark their first time collaborating in over a decade. Both seem passionate about the project; Leigh has worked for almost twenty years to get the film made, while Spall signed on for the lead role very early on.
On his goals with the biopic, Leigh told Rope of Silicon that:
Turner as a character is compelling. I want to explore the man, his working life, his relationships and how he lived. But what fascinates me most is the drama that lies in the tension between this driven eccentric and the epic, timeless world he evoked in his masterpieces. I also see rich tragic-comic potential in his often turbulent relationship with the English Art Establishment, especially in his later years, when his increasingly radical work was misunderstood and derided.
Spall is certainly an expressive actor, and the above image indicates that he certainly looks the part. His history with Leigh will certainly be an asset as the two attempt to communicate Leigh’s ambitious ideas on film.
Sony Pictures Classics has already secured US distribution rights for the biopic, and Leigh appears to be aiming for a 2014 release date. Though it may be premature to say so, I could easily see this biopic bringing Leigh the Oscar attention he has missed out on throughout his long and illustrious career. He both directed and wrote the film, and he’s working with a cast of frequent collaborators including Marion Bailey, Dorothy Atkinson, Oliver Maltman and Paul Jesson, so I feel comfortable predicting good things for the biopic.
What do you think of the above image? Will you be checking out this biopic, or is J.M.W. Turner too obscure a historical figure to interest you? Let us know in the comment section!