After his stellar work on acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, James Marsh is taking on another tale of a flawed individual battling against seemingly insurmountable odds. Blueprint Pictures and BBC Films have just set the helmer, whose 2008 documentary Man on Wire won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, to direct Colin Firth in a feature about amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst, who set off in 1968 to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race.
While The Theory of Everything told the story of Hawking’s rise to prominence even as his relationship with first wife Jane Wilde eventually crumbled, this new pic will be much more tragic than inspirational. After all, Crowhurst’s efforts to win the race and claim a cash prize, in hopes of aiding his failing business, soon led him to falsify log books and plot to deceive the race’s organizers into believing he had completed the race. This tactic evidently took a great mental toll on Crowhurst, who disappeared and was later revealed to have experienced a breakdown and jumped overboard to his death.
Firth, an Oscar-winning actor for his lead performance in another biopic (The King’s Speech) will play Crowhurst. Kate Winslet was previously attached to play his wife, though it’s unclear whether her deal still stands now that the project is finally gathering steam. Shooting is expected to kick off this spring, with Marsh working from a script by Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!, Side Effects), who is also on board as a producer. Other producers on the pic include Pete Czernin, Graham Broadbent, Nicolas Mauvernay and Jacques Perrin.
This true-history tale of madness and misery seems like quite a departure for Marsh, whose best-known films have focused on individuals overcoming adversity, not buckling under its weight. However, the remarkable job he did on The Theory of Everything likely means that we’ll be in for a visually potent pic, and given that the vast majority of the film will likely be set on Crowhurt’s vessel, the Teignmouth Electron, mid-voyage, that’s a deeply exciting prospect.