Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz is in talks to work with her The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos once again, on a film about three women who rose to power in the 17th century, and left a legacy that is still felt today.
The Favourite is an historical drama, written by newcomer Deborah Davis, and Tony McNamara (The Secret Life Of Us), which focuses on the complicated relationships between British monarch Queen Anne, and two of her closest advisors – Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham. While Weisz is said to be circling the role of Churchill, Emma Stone will play Masham, while the role of Queen Anne will be filled by the multiple award-winning actress Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz, Tyrannosaur).
Queen Anne succeeded William III as monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, becoming the first monarch of Great Britain and Ireland, after the Acts of Union were passed in 1707, uniting England and Scotland as one nation. Having no surviving children at the time of her passing in 1714, she was also the last monarch of the House Of Stuart – monarchs of the Kingdom Of Scotland who inherited the Kingdoms of England and Ireland in the 17th century.
Queen Anne is said to have met the forthright Sarah (then Sarah Jennings) in the early 1670s, and the two developed a close bond – the former appointing the latter a Lady Of The Bedchamber, and the latter marrying the ambitious John Churchill, who would eventually become a powerful general. From her position of power and influence, Sarah reached out and befriended her cousin, Abigail Hill, whose branch of the family had become destitute. Abigail was subsequently appointed to the Queen’s inner circle, too, and eventually married Samuel Masham.
As Sarah and Queen Anne found themselves increasingly at odds with regard to political matters, Abigail found herself increasingly favoured, since her own political leanings were more closely aligned with those of the monarch. This situation eventually led to the dismissal of Sarah and her husband in 1711, and to Abigail succeeding her cousin as Keeper Of The Privy Purse until the death of Anne in 1714.
The reign of Queen Anne bore witness to what is widely regarded as one of the most significant political transformations in history – with the enactment of the Treaty Of Union, and the Union Of The Parliaments, leading to the creation of ‘Great Britain’. As two of her closest confidantes, Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham wielded vast influence over these events – the legacy of which has shaped the development of the country as a whole, as well as its political systems in particular, and its relationship with the wider world. The Favourite, therefore, represents an important female-led film project that highlights three women who helped to shape a nation.