Who Will Star in the New “Rebecca”?

11 02 2012

As Daily Variety reports here, Dreamworks and Working Title Pictures are looking to create a new adaptation of “Rebecca.” When I wrote about Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film adaptation here, I called it “a gothic romance that drips foreboding and suspense,” and while Hitchcock himself was not entirely pleased with the film, it was the only one of his films to win the Academy Award for “Best Picture” – an award that producer David O. Selznick brought home. While it’s possible that Hitchcock’s contentious relationship with Selznick soured his memory of “Rebecca” – and you can read about that relationship in my review of Leonard J. Leff’s book “Hitchcock and Selznick” here – the film stands as a masterpiece. It was an important stepping stone for Hitchcock: His first American film, his first with Selznick, his first taste of Hollywood glamour…

The new “Rebecca” is being scripted by Stephen Knight (“Eastern Promises”), who will go back to the original novel by Daphne Du Maurier as the source for his adaptation. While Hitchcock remained faithful to the novel in his film, a Selznick’s insistence, there were some differences between the two, the primary one of which was that the film significantly toned down the lesbian overtones of Mrs. Danvers’ devotion to the first Mrs. De Winter. It’s easy to imagine that this as the first story element the filmmakers will reinstate, but beyond that, it’s hard to say.

Of course, the big question is who will play the second Mrs. De Winter. Selznick did his best to make the search for the right actress an event similar to his earlier quest for the silver screen’s Scarlet O’Hara, and as the unnamed star of “Rebecca,” Joan Fontaine was naive and tremulous as Mrs. Danvers undermined her confidence. So, who do YOU think should play the second Mrs. De Winter? I could see Michelle Williams or Jessica Brown Findley from “Downton Abbey,” but there are so many terrific young actresses out there, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And who could fill the shoes of Laurence Olivier as the charming but imperious Maxim De Winter, or  Judith Anderson as the obsessive Mrs. Danvers?

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