Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz is set to play one of the icons of Hollywood’s Golden Era in Billy Wilder and Me, with Stephen Frears to direct.
The project was announced by legendary producer Jeremy Thomas, fresh off the back of his Cannes success with Jury Prize winner EO, and will be based on Jonathan Coe’s much-loved 2020 book Mr Wilder and Me, with Christopher Hampton adapting.
Part coming-of-age story, part true-life portrait of the beloved Billy Wilder (Waltz), the film is set during the summer of 1977, when an innocent young woman begins working for the famed director and his screenwriter Iz Diamond on a Greek island during the filming of Fedora. When she follows Wilder to Germany to continue the shoot, she finds herself joining him on a journey of memory into the heart of his family history.
Frears teams with two-time Oscar winning screenwriter Hampton, their third collaboration after Dangerous Liaisons and Cheri. Thomas and Frears, meanwhile, made cult road movie The Hit together in 1984.
Co producers are Reinhard Brundig and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos, who previously partnered with Thomas on Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive.
Production will commence in the spring of 2023 in Greece, Munich and Paris. Casting of further principal roles will be announced shortly.
“Europe and Hollywood. Hollywood and Europe. The most interesting dilemma in the cinema,” said Frears.
Added Waltz: “Billy Wilder said ‘You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.’ A Stephen Frears movie from a Christopher Hampton script produced by Jeremy Thomas should do the trick for me.”
Hampton said: “From the time of our first meeting in Los Angeles in the early eighties, Billy Wilder was extremely kind and encouraging to me. Jonathan Coe’s wonderful novel has provided the perfect opportunity to express my gratitude and my admiration for one of the undisputed giants of cinema history.”
Thomas added: “I’m excited about this collaboration, and am looking forward to seeing the film as a committed cinema lover.”