Mulligan set for ‘My Fair Lady’

Posted by · 3:09 am · March 25th, 2010

Between Carey Mulligan and Mia Wasikowska, it seems the industry has no need for other 20-something actresses — they’ll divvy up all the plum parts between them.

Days after Mulligan’s name was connected to the English-language remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” comes the news that she’s to play Eliza Doolittle in the long-mooted remake of “My Fair Lady.”

Almost two years ago, it was announced that a new version of the 1964 Best Picture winner was in the works, with Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright in the frame. Some games of musical chairs have apparently been played since then — John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) in now in the director’s chair, while Emma Thompson is on script duty.

At last night’s premiere for the “Nanny McPhee” sequel, Thompson confirmed that Mulligan — with whom she co-starred, of course, in “An Education” — is on board, adding that she “would love” Hugh Grant to fill Rex Harrison’s Oscar-winning shoes as Professor Henry Higgins.

I remain about as enthusiastic about this particular do-over as I was two years ago, and Madden’s post-1998 résumé doesn’t aid my anticipation. But Mulligan makes as much sense as anyone for the project, though it’s not as excitingly counterintuitive a possibility for the actress as the role of Lisbeth Salander.

Her rise continues apace — and with this development, don’t expect those rote Audrey Hepburn comparisons to stop anytime soon.

→ 38 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

38 responses so far

  • 1 3-25-2010 at 3:12 am

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    Richard E. Grant played Prof Higgins on the stage here in Australia (well, not in Brisbane… grumble grumble). He may have done elsewhere too. He’d be great.

    Wait, I mean, NO, DON’T REMAKE THIS!

  • 2 3-25-2010 at 3:24 am

    Glenn said...

    I have no qualms about this remake at all since the Hepburn version is – ahem – not very good (good gawd, let’s hope they keep the running time to less than 170 minutes, shall we?) and it’s a story that has been done time and time again that, hey, what’s one more?

  • 3 3-25-2010 at 7:22 am

    LordBigsley said...


  • 4 3-25-2010 at 7:50 am

    Christopher said...

    the casting of carey mulligan might be the one thing that makes me go see this film–alongside, Ms. Thompson writing the script! I actually instantly hoped this would happen when I saw them together in An Education. I know there’s no real proper role for Emma Thompson in My Fair Lady, but I’d love to see her. Perhaps she could play Mrs. Higgins, but she doesn’t seem old enough.

  • 5 3-25-2010 at 8:01 am

    Chase K. said...

    I hope this is going to be more “Pygmalion” than “My Fair Lady”…

  • 6 3-25-2010 at 8:09 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    As unnecessary as this remake is, I could not be more excited that Emma Thompson is writing the screenplay! Seriously, her “Sense and Sensibility” is one of the best things ever! And I’m happy about Mulligan’s instant career. Very deserved.

    I just hope they don’t cast Judi Dench as Mrs. Higgins. That would just be too obvious. Might I suggest Fionnula Flanagan? How about Colin Firth as Higgins?

  • 7 3-25-2010 at 8:11 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    Well, Chase, I actually think Cukor’s “My Fair Lady” was more “Pygmalion” than Asquith’s “Pygmalion”.

  • 8 3-25-2010 at 8:21 am

    Jim T said...

    Nicolas Mancuso – Um, they cast Mulligan (allegedly the new Hepburn) in Hepburn’s role. That was not obvious, right?

    I hope this will be better than the original.

  • 9 3-25-2010 at 9:10 am

    carlo said...

    Hmm, I think Scarlett Johansson and Evan Rachel Wood are doing quite well and they are in the same age gap. But maybe you forgot they’re in their twenties since they have already been around for so long.

  • 10 3-25-2010 at 9:25 am

    Nicolas Mancuso said...

    OK, Jim, you’re absolutely right. But Dench seems to be the only actress approached to play old, British matrons — even when she’s not right for the part, like in “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Pride and Prejudice”.

    And, please, there’s no need to be snippy.

  • 11 3-25-2010 at 9:45 am

    Flora R said...

    Angela Lansbury for Mrs. Higgins!

  • 12 3-25-2010 at 10:50 am

    lina said...

    I am more ecited for Mulligan work on NEVER LET ME GO than this future project to be honest. But I am just happy her career is moving so fast. She is such lovely girl, one of the nicest celebrity I ever met.

    Just hope she can handle all this change.

  • 13 3-25-2010 at 10:51 am

    lina said...

    I am more excited for Mulligan work on NEVER LET ME GO than this future project to be honest. But I am just happy her career is moving so fast. She is such lovely girl, one of the nicest celebrity I ever met.

    Just hope she can handle all this change.

  • 14 3-25-2010 at 10:52 am

    Chase K. said...

    @Mancuso: I was speaking more along the lines of musical vs. comedy/social satire.

  • 15 3-25-2010 at 11:31 am

    Nel said...

    I rather she did Effie with Emma Thompson, personally. I am not convinced about this remake

  • 16 3-25-2010 at 12:09 pm

    BurmaShave said...

    The racetrack scene should be shown in film classes, but besides that the original is ass, and Harrison’s win over Burton, O’Toole and Sellers is one of of the most unfortunate in Oscar history.

  • 17 3-25-2010 at 12:12 pm

    TJK said...

    Dammit, these remakes again!

    Like with those japanese horror movies…

    At least Mulligan is a good choice.

  • 18 3-25-2010 at 12:44 pm

    Jim T said...

    Sorry Nicolas. It’s just that I like watching Dench in as many films as possible. :p

  • 19 3-25-2010 at 12:46 pm

    Jim T said...

    Nell, yes, that seemed like an interesting project.

    I really think that Mulligan and Knightley are serious competitors. There are so many roles that only one of them can have.

  • 20 3-25-2010 at 1:04 pm

    lenny said...

    I’ve never been a musical fan, but I can still watch & enjoy the 70’s ” Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory “. That film still holds up! I refuse to watch the Tim Burton version, because I can tell it is a travesty. I’m curious to see if Carey Mulligan can match or exceed the vocal chops that Anne Hathaway displayed on SNL & the 2009’s Oscars. You truly need good vocal talent ( and acting talent) to carry a musical. I’m surprised Hathaway wasn’t offered the lead role.

    Guy, I appreciate your writing, but please stop instigating. Mulligan & Wasikowska ( I know you love these two actresses) are not the only A-list twenty-something actresses getting plum roles. What about Hathaway, Portman, or Michelle Williams,etc… ?

  • 21 3-25-2010 at 3:16 pm

    lina said...

    @lenny, I think he was talking about the early 20’s roles, since those girls are 21 and 24.

    Hathaway, Portman and Willimans are in their late 20’s and we know they are getting the best adult roles that Hollywood has, sicen they are the best too.

    In fact this is a damn good group of actresses. all seem to be very focused on the work and doing great jobs.

  • 22 3-25-2010 at 4:23 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    No need to take the Wasikowska/Mulligan remark quite so literally, guys — there’s no denying they’re both everywhere at the moment.

  • 23 3-25-2010 at 4:49 pm

    Holden said...

    I really hope this one’s better than the overrated original.

  • 24 3-25-2010 at 4:55 pm

    SJG said...

    Meh, I hope this remake falls through, if only because the Lerner & Loewe musical (like Shaw’s play) is wickedly funny and for some reason Hollywood seems to approach musicals with pure humorlessness, and period films even more so.

    Just contrast the original Broadway version of “Sweeney Todd”, which simply oozed with good, clean, murderous fun (as well as pretty biting social commentary)… with the lifeless plodding approach Tim Burton took to the film version that not only took away all the best bits but had nothing to add.

    I’m sure a new “My Fair Lady” film won’t be any better… though I suppose it won’t be much worse than the Cukor adaptation.

  • 25 3-25-2010 at 8:04 pm

    Colin said...

    @SJC: Tim Burton’s been killing everything he’s adapted in the past decade, so we can’t hang the whole of Hollywood for the musicals he ruined on his watch. A better example would’ve been “Hairspray”, if you disliked that (I didn’t).

  • 26 3-25-2010 at 8:05 pm

    Colin said...

    (SJG*. Sorry for the misspelling!)

  • 27 3-25-2010 at 11:39 pm

    matsunaga said...

    Burton did a very well job in directing “Sweeney Todd” in my opinion and critics were hailing it as one of his best…

    Now Johnny Depp’s chracter killed a lot in that movie!

  • 28 3-26-2010 at 6:30 am

    Kevin said...

    Given the well-known slight that occured way back when during the casting of the movie, I would actually love for Julie Andrews to play Higgins’s mother, so that she gets into at least one of the film versions of the movie.

    I also hope that they actually use London this time, as the lack of sky on the Warner set was stifling to behold in that movie.

  • 29 3-26-2010 at 6:31 am

    Kevin said...

    Come to think of it though, voice-wise, why NOT Anne Hathaway? She’s perfectly capable of such a role and her voice is extraordinary for an actress who happens to sing.

  • 30 3-26-2010 at 9:00 am

    SJG said...

    Colin: I don’t necessarily put “Hairspray” in the same sort of musical category as “My Fair Lady”. Movies and stage musicals like “Hairspray” and “Mamma Mia!” and “The Producers” never really tried to be about the dramatic arts, they were just popular entertainments that had fun songs. I think those movies are enjoyable for what they are.

    Things like “Sweeney Todd”, “Chicago”, “Dreamgirls”, “Nine”, etc., strive for a loftier approach to things like character development, plot, social commentary. And for the most part these newer movie musicals have just not done anything for me. They’re all style and no substance. They tend to be pretty humorless, overbearing, and just generally lifeless, even when the show lends itself to humor, genuine depth, and vivacity.

    And, @ matsunaga, Burton’s take on “Sweeney Todd” wasn’t altogether bad as a movie, but as an adaptation of Sondheim’s stage show it pretty much sucked. I’m usually the first to grant Burton a pass when he displays a complete lack of fidelity to source material, but butchering (no pun intended) “Sweeney Todd” is inexcusable in my book. (The same goes for “Alice in Wonderland”, for what it’s worth.)

    Of course, there are a lot of people who think the exact opposite of me when it comes to these newer movie musicals, and I can’t really say I hold it against them.

  • 31 3-26-2010 at 9:09 am

    SJG said...

    Kevin, I would agree that Anne Hathaway is probably the best choice for the part of Eliza Doolittle (and it pains me to say that, because frankly I can’t stand any of the roles I’ve seen her in).

    But even though I don’t really like her, I’ll say that she’s shown more ability than her peers to handle a character like Eliza Doolittle — who needs to be funny and serious, lowly and lofty, ignorant and intelligent, fragile and strong, and often in rapid succession or all at once.

  • 32 3-26-2010 at 9:35 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Kevin: Casting Julie Andrews is a pretty great idea, I must say.

  • 33 3-26-2010 at 1:03 pm

    JR said...

    Another kudo for Kevin on the Andrews pick!

    Much as I admire Mulligan (and have since Bleak House), Ellen Page would be perfection as Salander. Or would that be too obvious?

  • 34 3-26-2010 at 1:06 pm

    JR said...

    Oh, and I also prefer Firth over Grant (both of them) as Higgins… My choice, though? The great Bill Nighy, though I’m sure they’ll skew younger (and bigger box office).

  • 35 3-26-2010 at 2:09 pm

    shelly p. said...

    SJG , you are entitled to your opinion, but I don’t understand your dislike for Anne Hathaway. She is extremely talented , and always seems gracious, humble, and kind. Hathaway is one of the few young American actresses that I can see having a long career in film or in the theatre.

    Recently, Anne impressed me when she guest -starred as Krusty the Clown’s girlfriend on the 450th episode of “The Simpsons (best in years) ” . She was absolutely brilliant ! Hathaway seamlessly acted with a flawless Long Island accent and sang beautifully throught out this episode- almost sounded like a opera singer. Also, Anne brought so much charm, complexity, humor, and a little drama to her role. Because she was so wonderful with this role , I want her role to be a recurring character that show. Cartoon acting is not easy because you can only act with your speaking voice (no facial expressions & no body movements) – she pulled it off.

  • 36 3-27-2010 at 7:25 am

    Eunice said...

    I’d love to see Mulligan/Grant in the remake, and I’m excited that Emma Thompson is on board for scripting duties. It’d be interesting to see Mulligan/Firth too. Also, since people have brought up Anne Hathaway’s name, I think it’d be a good thing to go for her too, since she definitely has the voice and charm for it. She could go from sophisticated to common man in a second, and I think she has the wit necessary to go toe to toe with whoever Mr. Higgins might be. I’d also love to see Julie Andrews or Angela Lansbury play Mrs. Higgins too, just so we can see them in action.

    As for who’s going to play Mr. Higgins, I’m leaning on Firth more than Grant. His singing voice is decent enough, and I think he could do a great job with it.

  • 37 3-31-2010 at 12:44 pm

    Charlie said...

    I prefer Hugh Laurie over all of them!