Sebastian Barry’s novel ‘The Secret Scripture’ – shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2008 – is set to be adapted into a feature film by ‘My Left Foot’ Producer Noel Pearson, with principal photography to take place in Wicklow and Sligo in June 2014.
Hollywood actresses Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave have both signed on to play younger & older versions of the main character, Roseanne McNulty, a Sligo woman who keeps a diary of her many years confined to a mental hospital in Roscommon.
Noel Pearson was nominated for an Oscar for ‘My Left Foot’ in 1990, and his many producing credits include ‘The Field’, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ and Maeve Binchy’s ‘Tara Road’.
As IFTN reported earlier this year , Irish screenwriter Johnny Ferguson, who wrote the screenplay for ‘The Secret Scripture’ in 2012, sadly died this April after a short illness. He was most famous for writing ‘Gangster No 1’, which earned him a British Independent Film award nomination in 2000.
Mr Pearson told IFTN this week that he considered the screenplay a fitting tribute to his longtime friend and collaborator Mr Ferguson.
‘That motivated me a lot to get it made. ‘The Secret Scripture’ is a wonderful novel. The thing about Johnny’s script is it’s very character-driven and actor-driven, and it wouldn’t work without the right actors. So we’re lucky to have Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave,’ he said.
Mr Pearson confirmed that shooting will take place on 2nd June for eight weeks, mainly on location in Wicklow and Sligo.
He added that Mr Ferguson also completed the screenplay for another Sebastian Barry adaptation – World War I epic ‘A Long, Long Way’ – which Ferndale Films has in development, along with the script for modern fairytale ‘The Magnificat’.
Ferndale Films is also currently producing a documentary for TG4 about the Dunnes Stores Lockout and workers strike, which is part-funded by the BAI and the Irish Film Board.
No stranger to Ireland, Jessica Chastain shot ‘Miss Julie’ with Colin Farrell in Fermanagh earlier this year, an Irish/Norwegian/English co-production, produced by Dublin-based Subotica.
She won the 2013 Oscar for Best Actress for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, as the CIA agent who spent a decade hunting Osama Bin Laden.
Vanessa Redgrave’s most memorable role in recent years was as the older incarnation of Saoirse Ronan’s Briony – for which Ms Ronan was Oscar nominated – at the end of ‘Atonement’.