Upcoming Projects Spotlight: BBC’s Aurelio Zen & War of the Gods

I’m excited to hear about these two projects involving two talented but underrated British actors.

Rufus Sewell is set to play Aurelio Zen in BBC’s new detective series

Special thanks to Prairiegirl for the tip. Based on the best-selling novel by the late Michael Dibdin, Rufus will play the fictitious Italian detective that’s set in Rome. According to BBC Press Release the producers behind the BAFTA award-winning Wallander is making the three feature-length dramas with John Alexander (Small Island, Sense And Sensibility) at the helm, and Simon Burke (Sons And Lovers, White Teeth) as the writer who will adapt three of Dibdin’s novels: Cabal, Ratking, and Vendetta.

I’ve never heard of this novel before but it sounds pretty gripping. Here’s a quick synopsis of Vendetta: An impossible murder is recorded on the video system at Oscar Burolo’s Sardinian fortress. Aurelio Zen’s life is endangered as he attempts to resolve the case.

In The Guardian article, an exec producer of the film described the Aurelio Zen novels as “… much loved and they are great detective stories which are both very entertaining and full of insight into Italian life. Zen is handsome, humorous and romantic and Rufus Sewell is the perfect choice to play Didbin’s delightful creation. People love to see Italy on screen and there is a huge appetite for Italian style and culture.”

Well, one thing for sure they’ve cast the right man for the role, the Englishman’s got a versatile dark look about him that makes him fit to play diverse characters, so no doubt he could pass as an Italian. Ever since Eleventh Hour‘s canceled, I’ve been hoping to see Rufus do a really compelling project, whether it’s TV or movies, so this is good news indeed. It’s also nice to see Rufus breaks out of his villainous/bad guy roles (The Illusionist, The Holiday, The Legend of Zorro), even the actor is glad to be playing a nice guy, “I’m thrilled to be a part of this project with the opportunity to play such an intriguing, complex and likeable character.”

I’m all for Rufus in a romance so my eyes perked up when I read about the series overview: Zen’s romantic relationships have been as complicated as his cases. Although he and his wife were separated, they remained legally married for many years. For Aurelio this situation was more or less acceptable because it helped him slip out of relationships, yet he seems an expectant, hopeful lover and not at all exploitative. His romances trail off, but the women never totally disappear from his life; stray tendrils from their worlds are still tangled in his. Gemma, a glamorous, well-off divorcee with her own history, has had a longer run than most of the women because she is not particularly possessive. All of this is very Italian.

Filming will begin on location in Rome this Spring. As Prairiegirl said, our fave actor in our fave city, what more could we ask for?? Can’t wait to see this one arrive in the US courtesy of PBS Masterpiece.


Will War of the Gods finally put Henry Cavill on the Hollywood map?

Frieda Pinto and Henry Cavill

I talked about War of the Gods (which could be retitled as Dawn of War) as far back as last July, at the time I thought it’d be made around the same time as Clash of the Titans. As it turns out, whilst Clash will be released in 3D this April, there wasn’t much news about this one until now.

SlashFilm reported that Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto has joined the cast alongside Henry Cavill (The Tudors). She’ll play Phaedra, an oracle priestess who must join young warrior Theseus (Cavill) to as he leads his men into battle with the immortal Greek gods in order to … what else, save mankind. If you think the story is identical of Clash, well, it probably is, as the same article also said that Warner Bros at one point considered buying the Gods script for their remake of the Sam Worthington movie. Apparently this one will be filmed in similar style as 300, no surprise I guess as it’s produced by the same studio, Relativity Media, and its producers Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton previously partnered with 300 director Zack Snyder.

Now, the reason this movie was on my radar in the first place was because of Tarsem Singh, the Indian-born director behind the visual spectacle fantasy flick The Fall (if you haven’t seen this already, add it to your Netflix queue pronto!). I was really impressed with that movie, which starred Lee Pace, another actor I wish to see more of. A year ago, Tarsem told Empire about his vision of this Greek epic:
“It’s turning into, basically, Caravaggio meets Fight Club,” he said. “It’s a really hardcore action film done in Renaissance painting style. I want to see how that goes; it’s turned into something really cool. This guy who I really love, who’s the only one person in it right now, is the brother in The Tudors, Henry Cavill. I’m going for a very contemporary look on top of that so I’m kind of going with, you know, Renaissance time with electricity. So it’s a bit like Baz Luhrman doing Romeo + Juliet in Mexico; it’s just talking a particular Greek tale and half contemporising it and telling it.”

WOW! That sounds so bizarre, in a good way, and after seeing The Fall, I have confidence we’ll see something extraordinary from this guy. We might even see this in 3D also, which could be the reason for the movie’s year-long delay. The 3D production cost could add about $15 million to the already hefty budget of $115 million. As much as I’m eager to see what Tarsem will bring to the table with this one, I’m more curious if this’ll be the breakthrough role for Henry Cavill. As I mentioned before, Cavill previously lost out to Daniel Craig (James Bond in Casino Royale), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), Christian Bale (Batman Begins) and Robert Pattinson (Edward in Twilight). Yikes! That’s four iconic roles, enough to make any actor bitter. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case here, and I’m hopeful this project will boost his career.

Now, Clash has some big name thespians like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes playing the Greek gods, I wonder if War will add the same caliber actors to the cast? Perhaps someone like Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi or my ultimate wishlist: Alan Rickman? A girl can dream! 🙂

5 thoughts on “Upcoming Projects Spotlight: BBC’s Aurelio Zen & War of the Gods

  1. PrairieGirl

    And they’re adapting not just one, but three of Dibdin’s novels: Cabal, Ratking and Vendetta. What a joy it will be to see Rufus on Masterpiece Theater!

    1. Oh right, sorry if I didn’t make that clear in my post. Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to this, and I don’t even need cable! Btw, I think they call it PBS Masterpiece now, they’ve dropped ‘Theatre’ 🙂

      1. PrairieGirl

        Right you are, it’s just Masterpiece now, but with 3 sub-genres – Classic, Mystery and Contemporary. So I’m guessing this production will be classified as a Masterpiece Mystery. Anyway, it can’t come too soon for me!

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