It’s 1943. The Allies are determined to break Hitler’s grip on occupied Europe, and plan an all-out assault on Sicily; but they face an impossible challenge - how to protect a massive invasion force from potential massacre. It falls to two remarkable intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) to dream the most inspired and improbable disinformation strategy of the war - centred on the most unlikely of secret agents: a dead man. Operation Mincemeat is the extraordinary and true story of an idea that hoped to alter the course of the war - defying logic, risking countless thousands of lives, and testing the nerves of its creators to breaking point.
Operation Mincemeat is the extraordinary story of two intelligence officers that changed the course of World War II, saving tens of thousands of lives and breaking Hitler’s deadly grip on Europe, by recruiting the skills of the most unlikely of secret agents: a dead man.
Operation Mincemeat, the compelling new film by the acclaimed director John Madden, tells a factual story that is far stranger than fiction. This real-life event proved a vital turning point in the Second World War. It is fair to say that it fundamentally altered the future of Europe.
As the Allies prepared to invade mainland Europe in 1943, they were desperate to avoid the slaughter of their troops by the German forces that they knew would mass in southern Italy. So they hatched an astounding plan to dupe the Nazis into believing that they would land in Greece rather than Sicily. They came up with a deception which defies belief and which has now been turned into an absorbing movie, written by Michelle Ashford and featuring Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald , Penelope Wilton and Johnny Flynn. As Ashford so rightly puts it, "The story is absolutely the star of this film!"
Ben Macintyre, the bestselling author on whose book of the same name the film is based, explains why this scarcely credible episode was such a pivotal moment in the global conflict. "Operation Mincemeat was probably the most successful military deception operation ever carried out. What the deceivers had to do was to try to persuade the Germans that black was white and white was black. And they did this in the most extraordinary way. It now sounds like it comes straight out of fiction, which is exactly where it came from."
Ashford emphasises how this episode was a game changer in the progress of the war. "It's absolutely true that Operation Mincemeat changed the course of the war. If the Allies had not been able to access Europe, they would have been sunk. At that time, Europe was very heavily defended by the Germans. If the British had not been successful with Operation Mincemeat, there would have been a ghastly bloodbath. Without that brilliant plot, there is no way they would have won the war."
Macintyre fleshes out the details of the ostensibly hare-brained British scheme that in 1943 outfoxed the Nazis and changed the entire course of the Second World War. "The British decided that the plot would be to get a dead body and to give that body a completely false identity by disguising it as someone totally different. They would dress the body up in a military uniform and pretend that he was a special courier who had come down in a plane crash in the Mediterranean."
The British plotters aimed to float the body off the coast of neutral Spain, in the certain knowledge that it would be picked up by Nazi spies there. Those agents would then report the false information planted on the body directly to Adolf Hitler in Berlin. Macintyre continues that, "Crucially, the British would give the body an attaché case containing fake documents that would appear to indicate that the vast Allied Armada about to invade mainland Europe was aiming for Greece and not for Sicily. So it was an attempt to put the Nazis off the trail."
The fictional origins of the plot, which was codenamed Operation Mincemeat, are very strong. It was conceived by none other than Ian Fleming (played in the film by Johnny Flynn), who of course went on to create the immensely successful James Bond novels. Macintyre goes on to say that, "The plot actually did come from fiction. It came originally from a novel by a man called Basil Thompson. No one reads Thompson anymore. But someone who did was Ian Fleming. He was the assistant to Admiral Godfrey, who was the head of Naval Intelligence during the war and later became the model for M in the James Bond stories. Fleming proposed the idea from Thompson's novel to Godfrey. And so this idea was born almost entirely out of fiction. It came from novels."
However, because it was so fantastical, Operation Mincemeat was extremely hard to pull off. Working out of a dingy basement in central London, the top secret Twenty Committee of Naval Intelligence led by Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen) was presented with almost insurmountable challenges. Macintyre reflects that, "It proved extraordinarily difficult because, believe it or not, in wartime it was actually very hard to get hold of a dead body. People were dying all the time. But you had to find a body that looked as if it had drowned at sea and had come from a plane crash.
"The meat of the story – the mincemeat of the story, if you like – was trying to find a body and then to go through the incredibly complicated system of inventing a completely different character, a new person who'd never existed. And so, they set about it as if they were constructing a novel. And that's the key to the story: how do you create somebody who never existed?"
But it is the very incredibility of Operation Mincemeat which makes it such a mesmerising story. Director John Madden outlines what drew him to this tale. "It is a completely wild story, so precarious and so unlikely and so whacked out in every possible sense. Speaking as a filmmaker, that is what's irresistible about it.
"The stakes were so high that if Operation Mincemeat had gone wrong, it would have been a catastrophe that would be forever imprinted on everyone's mind, in the same way that D Day or the Battle of Britain or these other famous wartime events are. It had to work, or it would be a catastrophe. And the idea of this fragile, highly implausible, and very, very difficult-to-pull-off plot sitting against that level of odds is where the power of the story comes from."
The apparent impossibility of successfully executing Operation Mincemeat renders the film especially riveting. Kelly Macdonald, who plays Jean Leslie, an indispensable figure in concocting the plot, says that, "People will be really interested to see the human element of the story. When you think about the Second World War, you think about the soldier on the ground. So it's really refreshing to focus on these people in a basement in the middle of London coming up with quite ridiculous ideas about how to trick the Germans. It's just unbelievable that it was true and that it worked."
In watching Operation Mincemeat, there is also a genuine thrill in witnessing the unalloyed genius of the people who outwitted the Germans at this crucial moment in the war. Johnny Flynn amplifies this idea. "It takes the brilliance of these minds that were at the heart of this happening during the war to think of everything.
"They made sure that no stone was left unturned in terms of executing this plan and trying to imagine how the opposition was thinking, in order to undermine and deceive them. It sends the hairs up on the back of my neck and gets me feeling really emotional because these people took real risks for our sake. At this point in history, we're living with the benefit of what they did back then."
Audiences will be equally struck by the ingenious nature of the characters in Operation Mincemeat. The figure of Montagu is a case in point. Colin Firth comments that, "Ewen Montagu was a brilliant barrister who used those skills to anticipate other people's thinking. He didn't deploy a strategy because he liked it; he thought his way into his opponent's mind, and he did that with incredible vision. It was clearly a skill he had in the courtroom. But it proved invaluable in this case because he was constantly able to put himself in the shoes of the person who was on the other end of the deception."
Operation Mincemeat is also a story of great hope. It offers an uplifting message about the benefits of teamwork. That will be particularly welcome in the dark times that we are currently living through. Katherine Bridle, the Head of Film Development at See-Saw Films, who developed Operation Mincemeat as a movie, observes that, "It is a very unusual story. Its premise seems insane, but it's totally real. It's one of those stories you just want to tell friends. When you tell people about it, they say, 'I can't believe that's true!'
"It has elements of a Second World War film that you don't normally see. It takes great joy in human endeavour. It's a story about a group of people on the fringes who come together to do something important, not for medals or prestige, but for a higher purpose. The idea of coming together for the common good is really important. It's a beautiful, feelgood story."
Adding to the richness of the tale is the central love triangle that grows between Jean, Montagu and Cholmondeley. Firth expands on this. "A huge affection develops between these two men. But they are both in love with Jean. Jean cares for both of them, so it becomes this is very, very complex tussle of unresolved and unexpressed emotions, which is fed by the very high stakes they are operating in and this tiny, compressed, cloistered environment. They are thrown so closely together in a common cause."
Another fascinating aspect of Operation Mincemeat is the way that it utilises the idea of storytelling. Many of the characters working in the Twenty Committee are busily writing novels in their spare time. Producer Iain Canning remarks that, “Operation Mincemeat is a celebration of storytelling. Michelle Ashford’s beautiful adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s book being our foundation. The film, through its characters, performances and subject matter celebrates what can be achieved through telling the most compelling of stories.”
Madden confirms the significance of storytelling in Operation Mincemeat - both for the characters and for himself. "At a fundamental level, it's quite consciously a film about storytelling. The whole community that the film is dealing with is riddled with writers. Everybody's writing, including one that we all know very well. Ian Fleming is right at the centre of it all.
"The people who were actually coming up with these ideas were essentially writers. Some of them were published novelists who were writing about criminals who were tricking the police or leaving no trace behind them. So the idea of the twist, the unexpected, all of these kind of things were natural material to them. Telling a story that you want somebody to believe in is the fundamental job that I have. And it's exactly what they were doing."
Producer Emile Sherman reiterates the decisive role Fleming plays in the tale. “Ian Fleming is pivotal to the whole story of Operation Mincemeat. He is our narrator, but he is also in real life the person who put together the original Trout Memo. Within the memo was the idea of deceiving Hitler through the use of a dead body carrying papers, which is picked up and run with by the characters in our story. It's incredibly fun to see a pre-Bond Ian Fleming, living his life and being part of the war effort with all the weight of what he was going to become.”
Another arresting element of Operation Mincemeat is that it differs from other, more conventional war movies. Producer Kris Thykier, who is collaborating for the third time with Madden on this film, admits that, "I came at it knowing that it was a Second World War movie, and what I was concerned about was that it would feel like something that had been done before. But then in reading Michelle's scripts and understanding what John saw in it, it did feel surprising and twisting and actually strangely modern. It was a different way of approaching a war film, and that was really exciting for me."
Operation Mincemeat is also a highly original kind of war film in that it focuses not on frontline heroes, but on figures in the shadows. According to Ashford, "It's a story about the nobility of unsung heroes. People who had fantasies of being warriors on the frontline, realised it was their lot to work behind the scenes and do their bit in another way. People should ask themselves, 'What's my role in saving the world?' That's what these guys did.
"They said, 'I don't need to grab the headlines. I can quietly do my bit behind the scenes'. That is just as worthy, if not more worthy, than the headline grabbers. We live now in a world obsessed with celebrities, but what is tremendous about this story is the notion of praising those working behind-the-scenes. It's about those who don't grab the glory, but actually make things happen. It's important to get that out there."
The strength of Operation Mincemeat also lies in the fact that that it is utterly grounded in reality, an aspect that Macintyre is eager to highlight. "It wasn't until MI5 began declassifying its files that you could really begin to tell true stories about a subject that's been so heavily mystified and fictionalised. And so I began to look into the MI5 files, and they really are the most extraordinary cornucopia of detail because they're written by and for people who never expected them to be made public.
"They were always intended to be kept secret. And so they're honest in a way that most official files are not. Most people who know that this material is going to come out one day try to shade it slightly. They try to slightly cover up or make themselves look better or other people look worse. Not in these files. They're absolutely genuine accounts of what is going on."
The film stands out as well because it encompasses moments of great humour, as well as high seriousness. Madden says that, "I'm very attracted to films that have a variation of tone in the script, have many ways of communicating and traverse many moods. So Operation Mincemeat can suddenly become absurd and funny at moments that you're not expecting it to be and then swerve as quickly into something else. I find navigating that very exciting as a filmmaker, and I've been around that kind of material a lot."
Operation Mincemeat makes an enormous emotional impact, and that could not have been achieved, of course, without such a stellar cast. Thykier affirms that, "We are very, very proud of the cast. Obviously, we have unbelievable leads in Colin, Kelly, Matthew and Penelope, but across the board it's just a great collection of actors. There isn't a single part that isn't perfectly pitched. I have to credit John for his ability to spot the right actors for the parts, but also to attract those actors. He is an actor's director. Actors really want to work with him. So it's a phenomenal cast across the board."
Firth is certainly ideal casting as Montagu. Canning who, along with his partner at See-Saw Films Emile Sherman, produced 2010’s The King’s Speech, for which Firth won the Best Actor Oscar, asserts that, “We definitely wanted to be reunited with Colin. He gave such a stunning performance in The King’s Speech. Producing that film and later seeing the audiences’ response to it was a real highlight of my career.
“With Ewen Montagu, Colin just saw this amazing man who did something really extraordinary, something very daring for the time, and felt he had to be part of it. It was something about Montagu's daring that Colin was really drawn to I think. He also had a relationship with John, as they had worked together before on Shakespeare in Love. It was just a bit of magic that all those things came together.”
All the actors are in awe of the mighty Firth. For Matthew Macfadyen, playing opposite him was a dream come true. "If you're working with wonderful actors like Colin, which I am, then it's easy. It's a real delight. When I was a young teenager, I watched a film that Colin made in the late 80s, about the Falklands War. It was called Tumbledown and was directed by Richard Eyre.
"I watched it again and again and again. I also repeatedly watched another film Colin made called A Month in the Country. Those are the films I was watching as I was formulating a plan to maybe try and go to drama school and become an actor as a profession. And so to be working with him now, 25 years later, is really lovely."
Kelly Macdonald also shines as Jean. Jason Isaacs weighs up her qualities as an actress. "The film has a lot of loud, articulate, bossy, alpha males in it, but Kelly is the strongest of them all with her quiet voice and her quiet energy and her humanity. She's a brilliant actress and comedian. She's invented herself as Jean, who in many ways is the heart of the entire operation. They are trying to create a fake person with a fake life, and she understands people maybe better than anybody else."
Macfadyen plays a blinder as Cholmondeley, too. Madden sings the actor's praises. "What a complete stroke of luck that we got Matthew to play Cholmondeley because you really couldn't think of a better piece of casting than that. Matthew is perfect for it in every possible way. Matthew is a very funny character. He is just so gifted and has such an incredibly light touch. He occupies these funny tributaries of oddness. And though he's built like a leading man, he's often at his happiest where he's at the edge playing slightly offbeat characters."
The director is equally delighted by Penelope Wilton's performance. "Hester Leggett is the organizer and the emotional conscience of the film, and she is brilliantly played by Penelope Wilton, who I've obviously worked with before. I just think it's wonderful to find a woman in a story like this, who is not defined by her emotional relationship with a man, but by work and by friendship.
"Hester needn't necessarily have been the age that Penelope is, but I cast it that way deliberately because she has a kind of perspective that hovers above the other characters. You realize more and more as the film goes on that she plays a very central role in observing what's happening emotionally, as well as presiding over the organization."
The characters of Jean and Hester imbue Operation Mincemeat with a most welcome female perspective as well. In Isaacs' view, "We've done a lot of scenes, trying to recreate what those War Room meetings would have really been like. And the truth is, they were often a group of white men sat around a table. That was the structure of society; they were very male environments. But I think women probably did influence things quite a lot, and what's great about this script is that we do reappropriate some of the story and shed light on the women who were putting in their ideas. So it's terrific that Jean and Hester both take centre stage."
The film is also notable for its marvellous attention to detail. The fact that Operation Mincemeat is such a convincing evocation of 1943 London is down to its highly talented designer, JP Kelly. He sketches out his vision for the movie. "The Blitz had finished a few years earlier. So you had this really interesting stage where people had just become acclimatized to war – it was just the life they lived. They lived in blackouts, there was nothing strange about that. There was this normality in the abnormal, and that was really interesting to me."
During his research, Kelly uncovered lots of fascinating details. "When we dug deep, we discovered that people at that time lived for the party. They would party like crazy at night behind closed doors. A lot of the story is set in the Gargoyle Club that had been designed by Lutyens and decorated by Matisse. You enter the club and think, 'Hang on, this isn't the war we're used to seeing.' It's a really interesting visual backdrop for our war story.
"It just felt nice to explore a London during the war that wasn't the East End and brown, bombed out buildings and a depressed, flat city. Londoners that had licked their wounds and were surviving at the end of years and years of war. Our objective was to try and do this a little bit differently. This wasn't the London of the Blitz. We wanted to avoid a sandbagged, war-torn London."
To that end, the Gargoyle Club proved critical in recreating the hidden glamour of the era. Penelope Wilton states that the film really captures the 1940's sense of elan. "We have a scene earlier in the film in the Gargoyle Club, which was famous at the time. All the beautifully dressed supporting artists look absolutely authentic. They give a wonderful feel for the period. That is a backdrop to what we're doing. You have to get the period detail, the lighting, the costumes, the feel of that time exactly right for it all to work. We want to take people back into that world, which was pretty dark at the time, but also had a certain style."
Madden underscores the importance of recreating the minutiae of the secret mission at the centre of the film. "The initial part of the process is dreaming up this history, this extraordinary world, which has to be so specific – down to the receipts for rings, love letters, and overdraft letters from bank managers that were all in the corpse's wallet. The team had to collect all the stuff that was known collectively as 'wallet litter'. It's that stuff that you and I would have in our back pockets – things like receipts from the dry cleaner. But all contributes to the meticulous building of a real persona."
What makes the film all the more remarkable is the fact that the post-production took place under the severe restrictions imposed during the global pandemic. Thykier discloses just how challenging that task was. "It did make post-production complicated. I'm sure this will be something that's mirrored in other people who've been through the post process during the virus.
"But it brought out the best in us in lots of ways. All of us had to raise our game and figure out how to finish this film remotely. What were the best ways of doing it? How do you cut a picture with people in different parts of the country? I'm very proud of the fact that actually we did it with aplomb, and we did it with a lot of humour even though at times it was incredibly frustrating. We may well have ended up with a better result. I think it meant that we all watched the film over and over and over again and actually dug beneath the surface of it to try and get the core of that story."
At the heart of the film's success, of course, is the outstanding work of the director. Iain Canning sums up what John Madden brings to the party. “When we were brought Operation Mincemeat as a project, one of the huge pulls for us was working with John. He's always been a filmmaker that I've admired hugely and as my producing career developed he was someone I'd hoped I'd be able to work with at See-Saw.
“The spirit of the set really comes from the director, and John has such a personable and passionate way of filmmaking that everyone is inspired, from someone who is coming in for a day to perform a small role to the lead actors and the crew. John just inspires confidence. He knows how he wants to tell the story, and he has a real knack for storytelling that is very beautiful, but also very exciting to watch and be a part of.”
So what do the makers of Operation Mincemeat hope that audiences will take away from it? Macintyre stresses that it is very different from your usual Second World War drama. "It's not a wartime story that we're really that familiar with. This is a story about the effect of imagination. It's about the uses imagination can be put to. We are all familiar with the Second World War story of bombs and guns and bullets and armies and tactics and so on. But this is a story about what imagination can do in wartime. It's about how you can actually use lateral thinking, deception, fakes, fraud, counterfeiting, to think your way around a story, and that's what makes it so fascinating."
Thykier concurs. "I'm very proud of the way the film has ended up. The thing that sets it apart from what one would consider the more traditional period or war film is that it's a ride once you get on it. You're continually being taken round corners and down different avenues, and it's constantly exciting and different and surprising."
Johnny Flynn believes that Operation Mincemeat has very broad appeal. "I think there's something for everybody in this story. Most people won't have heard of Operation Mincemeat – I certainly didn't know anything about it before this – and it's fascinating. Apart from being incredible, fun, brilliantly told, thrilling, exciting, romantic, sad, tragic, and ultimately exhilarating, it's also true!"
Katherine Bridle maintains that Operation Mincemeat demonstrates the importance of working as a team. "We often see heroes as individuals, but the characters in Operation Mincemeat are a heroic bunch. They are heroes led by a deep-seated sense of commitment to get the job done and collaborate with each other."
Bridle continues that the film also illustrates how thrilling history can be. "We tend to think of history as black-and-white, but if you scratch beneath the surface of any episode from history, it's in full technicolour. This story has humanity, love, anger and passion. And that's what makes it so gripping."
Michelle Ashford wraps up by expressing her hope that Operation Mincemeat will engender in audiences, "A profound respect for how difficult the task was and how much people sacrificed to keep the world safe and free. I hope viewers have a sense of awe about all the people on the right side of history who worked so hard to defeat tyranny."
There are definite parallels with the world today. Ashford carries on that, "I hope people have a deep admiration for those people who made it happen and continue to make it happen and fight on the side of right. I hope audiences are quietly humbled by their example and inspired to keep our planet free and fair and out of the clutch of tyrants.
"I hope this movie will say to people, 'Wake up! We can't go around in a fog or slip into a slumber. These forces recur, and we must be on our guard against them'. In the movie, everyone pitches in. Operation Mincemeat reminds us that when we find ourselves in unbelievably complicated and challenging times, we must all do our part.
"We are all in it together."
Colin Firth as Ewen Montagu
Academy Award winning actor Colin Firth is a veteran of film, television and theatre, with an impressive body of work spanning over three decades. He has appeared in three films that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture: THE KING’S SPEECH, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and THE ENGLISH PATIENT. Colin’s performance as King George VI in THE KING’S SPEECH earned him an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, British Independent Film Award, Critics’ Choice Award and his second consecutive BAFTA Award in 2011. Colin also won the BAFTA Award in 2010 and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 2009 Venice Film Festival for his performance in Tom Ford’s A SINGLE MAN.
In 2008, Colin starred in Universal Pictures’ global smash hit MAMMA MIA! The film grossed over half a billion dollars around the world. He also starred in the Universal/Working Title hit film series BRIDGET JONES and in the Universal hit LOVE ACTUALLY, written and directed by Richard Curtis. At the time of its release, LOVE ACTUALLY broke box office records as the highest grossing British romantic comedy opening of all time in the UK and Ireland and was the largest opening in the history of Working Title Films.
In 2012 Colin was seen in Tomas Alfredson’s TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY opposite Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. The thriller is based on John Le Carré’s Cold War spy novel. The film garnered three Academy Award nominations including ‘Best Writing’ and won the 2012 BAFTA Film Award for ‘Outstanding British Film’ and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay.’
In 2013 Colin appeared in THE RAILWAY MAN directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, which also stars Nicole Kidman and Jeremy Irvine. The film is based on the true story of Eric Lomax, played by Colin, who sets out to find those responsible for his torture during his time as a prisoner in World War II.
In 2014 he was seen in MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, in which he stars opposite Emma Stone. The same year he starred in KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE as a secret agent who recruits and trains an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s competitive training program. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, it is based on the acclaimed comic book of the same name. The cast includes Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine and Taron Egerton.
In 2016, Colin appeared in GENIUS, a chronicle of Max Perkins's time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2016 and stars Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Guy Pearce and Vanessa Kirby. In the same year, Colin also reprised his role of Mark Darcy in BRIDGET JONES’S BABY.
EYE IN THE SKY was released on 15th April 2016 and is Colin’s first film produced and distributed by his production company, Raindog Films, with partner Ged Doherty. Raindog Films also produced the British-American feature LOVING, a true-life drama about a couple who were sentenced to prison because of their interracial marriage. The film is directed and written by Jeff Nichols and stars Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon, and Nick Kroll. The film was released in November 2016 and was nominated in both Best Actress and Best Actor categories at the 74th Golden Globe Awards. The film was also selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
In September 2017, Colin reprised his role of Harry Hart in KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, the sequel to KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film also starred Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore and Mark Strong. The film grossed $39 million in its opening weekend and won the Best Thriller category at last year’s Empire Awards.
In February 2018, Colin starred alongside Rachel Weisz and David Thewlis in drama THE MERCY. Colin played Donald Crowhurst, a yachtsman who attempts to win the 1968 Golden Globe Race but ends up creating an outrageous account of traveling the world alone by sea.
Also in 2018, Colin appeared in THE HAPPY PRINCE, a film written and directed by Rupert Everett, depicting the final years of Oscar Wilde. The film was released at Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and was well received to many four and five-star reviews. Colin also executive produced THE HAPPY PRINCE and sees Rupert Everett, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan and Anna Chancellor amongst its cast.
In July 2018, Colin returned to the role of Harry in the iconic musical sequel MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN. Colin was joined by Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Jeremy Irvine and many more in the highly successful musical comedy.
In December 2018, Colin starred as William Weatherall Wilkins in Disney’s highly anticipated MARY POPPINS RETURNS. The box office hit was written by Oscar nominee David Magee and based on “The Mary Poppins Stories” by P.L. Travers. Directed by Rob Marshall, the feature film also starred Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Last year, Colin starred in Sam Mendes’ award-winning film 1917 alongside George McKay, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott and Mark Strong. The film won Drama Motion Picture at last year’s Golden Globe Awards and won seven awards at last year’s BAFTAs including Best Film, Outstanding British Film and Director. 1917 was also nominated for Best Motion Picture at the Academy Awards.
Also last year, Colin starred in the latest adaptation of the 1911 children’s book THE SECRET GARDEN. Colin played Archibald Craven alongside Julie Walters as Mrs Medlock. The film was directed by BAFTA-winning Marc Munden and adapted by Jack Thorne.
Colin will next be seen in SUPERNOVA, a love story between Colin’s character, Sam, and Stanley Tucci’s character, Tusker, on a road trip around England as the couple deals with Tusker’s dementia diagnosis. Directed by Harry MacQueen, the film premiered at San Sebastián International Film Festival in September 2020. SUPERNOVA will be released in the UK on 21st March 2021 and in the US on 29th January 2021. Later this year, Colin will be seen starring in John Madden’s WWII drama, OPERATION MINCEMEAT. Based on the Ben Macintyre book of the same name, Michelle Ashford has written the screenplay. The story takes place in 1943, as the Allies prepare to launch an all- out assault on Nazi-held Europe.
His others film credits include the Oscar-nominated GIRL WITH A PEARL RING; BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON; DEVIL’S KNOT; ARTHUR NEWMAN; THEN SHE FOUND ME; WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR FATHER?; EASY VIRTUE; Michael Winterbottom’s GENOVA; A CHRISTMAS CAROL; THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST; Atom Egoyan’s WHERE THE TRUTH LIES; Marc Evans’ thriller TRAUMA; NANNY MCPHEE; WHAT A GIRL WANTS; A THOUSAND ACRES, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange; APARTMENT ZERO; MY LIFE SO FAR; Nick Hornby’s FEVER PITCH; CIRCLE OF FRIENDS; PLAYMAKER and the title role in Milos Forman’s VALMONT opposite Annette Bening.
On the small screen, Colin is famous for his breakout role as Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor and the National Television Award for Most Popular Actor.
In March 2004, Colin hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2001 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in the critically acclaimed HBO film CONSPIRACY and also received the Royal Television Society Best Actor Award and a BAFTA nomination for his performance in TUMBLEDOWN. His other television credits include BBC television movie BORN EQUAL; DONOVAN QUICK; THE WIDOWING OF MRS. HOLROYD; DEEP BLUE SEA; HOSTAGES and the mini-series NOSTROMO. His London stage debut was in the West End production of ANOTHER COUNTRY playing Guy Bennett. He was then chosen to play the character Judd in the 1984 film adaptation opposite Rupert Everett.
He was honored with the Humanitarian Award by BAFTA/LA at their 2009 Britannia Awards. In 2008 he was named Philanthropist of the Year by The Hollywood Reporter and prior to this, in 2006, Colin was voted European Campaigner of the Year by the EU.
Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley
Matthew Macfadyen is currently shooting the third season of an Emmy- and Critics Choice-nominated breakout turn in the HBO series SUCCESSION for director Adam McKay. He recently starred in QUIZ for ITV opposite Sian Clifford and Michael Sheen, as well as in the James Schamus-produced feature drama THE ASSISTANT. In the can, Matthew recently completed shooting opposite Colin Firth in John Madden’s upcoming OPERATION MINCEMEAT. Matthew’s extensive film credits include work with the world’s top filmmakers, including Ron Howard (FROST/NIXON, SAG Award nominee), Ridley Scott (ROBIN HOOD), and Joe Wright, for whom Matthew has starred in the great screen adaptations of PRIDE & PREJUDICE and ANNA KARENINA, both opposite Keira Knightley. He previously starred for five seasons in the hit BBC/Amazon series RIPPER STREET. Matthew was awarded the BAFTA for his work in the British miniseries CRIMINAL JUSTICE, directed by filmmaker Yann Demange; other major television credits include leading roles in SPOOKS, SECRET LIFE (BAFTA nominated), THE ENFIELD HAUNTING, ANY HUMAN HEART, and the Golden Globe-nominated miniseries THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH.
Kelly Macdonald as Jean Leslie
A native of Glasgow, Scotland, Kelly Macdonald is perhaps best known as Margaret Schroeder on “Boardwalk Empire,” the voice of Merida in BRAVE and for pivotal roles in work by some of the most influential filmmakers of our time – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN by the Coen brothers, Robert Altman’s GOSFORD PARK and Danny Boyle’s TRAINSPOTTING.
This spring, Macdonald stars in the sixth season of the BBC’s hit police drama “Line of Duty,” as enigmatic Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson, an adversary whose unconventional conduct in an unsolved murder case raises suspicions. Later this year, Macdonald stars opposite Colin Firth in the WWII drama OPERATION MINCEMEAT, from director John Madden.
Macdonald most recently starred in the global drama GIRI/HAJI (translating as Duty/Shame), opposite Takehiro Hira and Yosuke Kubosuka (GO, SILENCE). A thriller that explores the butterfly effect of one murder over two cities, eight episodes and multiple time frames, GIRI/HAJI made its world premiere on BBC Two and is currently available on Netflix. Macdonald also starred in the critically acclaimed BBC One/BritBox legal drama The Victim, a four-part series created by “The Man In The High Castle” writer Rob Williams. She plays Anna Dean, a Scottish mother whose 9-year-old boy was murdered 15 years prior by a 13-year-old. Years later, having campaigned to be told of the killer’s new identity, she is accused of revealing his name online. Macdonald also played Princess Margaret opposite Jamie Campbell Bower’s Mick Jagger in “Urban Myths: Mick & Margaret,” a humorous look at the decades long ‘special relationship’ between Britain’s greatest rock star and the Queen’s sister. Another short “Urban Myths” episode entitled “In Their Own Words” also aired on ITV.
Macdonald made her acting debut as Diane, Renton’s (Ewan McGregor) one-night stand in TRAINSPOTTING (1996) and revisited the part 20 years later in Boyle’s T2 TRAINSPOTTING. In 2001, she played Mary, the visiting servant who works for Maggie Smith’s countess in GOSFORD PARK (SAG, Critics Choice Awards for the ensemble). More recently, Macdonald starred opposite Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in Simon Curtis’ GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, for which she received a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Macdonald also received the London Critics Circle Award, a BAFTA nomination and a SAG Award (ensemble) for her performance as Carla Jean Moss, wife to hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. More recently, Macdonald received critical acclaim for her star turn in last year’s PUZZLE (picked up by Sony Pictures Classics at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival), a film that explored the coming-of-age of Agnes, a devoted housewife and mother. Marc Turtletaub directed from a screenplay by Oren Moverman. Irrfan Khan co-starred.
Macdonald also provided the voice for Merida, the tomboyish princess/heroine of BRAVE, Pixar’s first feature with a female protagonist. Set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, the fairy tale follows Merida’s adventures as she defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. Macdonald reprised the role in one of the funniest scenes with other Disney princesses in RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2.
Macdonald’s screen credits also include DIRT MUSIC, directed by Gregor Jordan and co-starring Garrett Hedlund, Philippa Lowthorpe’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS, Bronwen Hughes’ THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION, with Ben Schnetzer and Maria Bello, THE DECOY BRIDE, with Alice Eve and David Tennant, CHOKE with Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston (Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for the ensemble cast), NANNY McPHEE with Emma Thompson, LASSIE with Peter O’Toole, ALL THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN for Mehdi Charef and Emir Kusturica, John Crowley’s INTERMISSION, COUSIN BETTE with Jessica Lange, ELIZABETH with Cate Blanchett, STRICTLY SINATRA, Gregg Araki’s SPLENDOR, Phil Joanou’s ENTROPY, Mike Figgis’ THE LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE, Hugh Hudson’s MY LIFE SO FAR, STELLA DOES TRICKS and SOME VOICES, opposite Daniel Craig. For TWO FAMILY HOUSE, Macdonald received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.
Macdonald made cameo appearances as Ravenclaw’s ghost, The Grey Lady, in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2, Marc Forster’s FINDING NEVERLAND (as Peter Pan), Michael Winterbottom’s TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY and THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.
On television, Macdonald starred in a pivotal 90-minute episode of the acclaimed anthology series “Black Mirror” (Channel 4/Netflix), entitled “Hated in the Nation,” directed by James Hawes and “The Child in Time” (BBC One/PBS/Masterpiece) an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award-winning 1987 novel with Benedict Cumberbatch. Macdonald garnered an Emmy Award for her performance as the title character opposite Bill Nighy in the HBO original film THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ, directed by David Yates from a screenplay by Richard Curtis. In 2010, she received a Golden Globe Award nomination and shared 2011 and 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards with the cast of “Boardwalk Empire,” the critically acclaimed HBO series from creator Terence Winter and executive producer Martin Scorsese. Macdonald starred for all five seasons as the complicated Irish widow and mother who captured the attention of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the undisputed ruler of Atlantic City during Prohibition.
Macdonald also played Erica Bana’s radio station colleague in Ricky Gervais’ SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS for Netflix. She co-starred with Tim Roth and John Simm in SKELLIG for SKY and portrayed journalist Della Smith in the ground-breaking BBC mini-series “State of Play.”
Penelope Wilton as Hester Leggett
Dame Penelope Wilton DBE is one of the UK’s most renowned stage and screen actors. Best known for her role in Downton Abbey as Isobel Crawley, she became a household name appearing alongside Richard Briers in the 1984 BBC sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles. Other TV credits include playing Homily in The Borrowers and Harriet Jones in Doctor Who and Anne in Ricky Gervais’ Afterlife.
Her film appearances include Calendar Girls, Eternal Beauty, Shaun of the Dead, Woody Allen’s Match Point, Pride & Prejudice, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The History Boys.
Penelope has had an extensive career on stage, receiving six Olivier Award nominations, and winning in 2015 for her performance in Taken at Midnight.
Wilton was appointed an OBE in the 2004 New Year Honours and was elevated to become a DBE in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to drama.
Jason Isaacs as Admiral Godfrey
Jason Isaacs is an award-winning actor who has had numerous nominations including Golden Globes, BAFTA, International Emmy, Critics’ Circle, Satellite, SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards amongst others. Notable film credits include the HARRY POTTER film series, playing Lucius Malfoy; Armando Ianucci’s THE DEATH OF STALIN; A CURE FOR WELLNESS; BEHIND THE GLASS; LOOK AWAY; LONDON FIELDS; THE PATRIOT; PETER PAN; BLACKHAWK DOWN; ARMAGEDDON; FURY; THE TUXEDO; and HOTEL MUMBAI opposite Armie Hammer and Dev Patel. On television, Jason has starred in AWAKE (NBC), DIG (USA) and BROTHERHOOD (Showtime) with appearances in ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE WEST WING and ENTOURAGE. Jason can be seen in the hit Netflix show THE OA and plays Captain Lorca in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY for CBS All Access. Jason’s voice work includes voicing Dracula in the animation HAPPY FAMILY; The Inquisitor for the popular TV series STAR WARS REBELS; Siddeley the spy-jet in Disney Pixar’s CARS 2; Superman in SUPERMAN: RED SON and many more. Jason voiced the renowned villain Dick Dastardly in Warner Bros’ animated feature SCOOB.
Later this year Jason can be seen in in John Madden’s upcoming OPERATION MINCEMEAT with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen, as well as CREATION STORIES with Ewen Bremner. We can next see Jason in Fran Krantz’s MASS and Simon West’s action-disaster SKYFIRE.
Johnny Flynn as Ian Fleming
British musician and critically acclaimed actor Johnny Flynn is arguably best known for his leading role opposite Jessie Buckley in the BAFTA nominated psychological thriller BEAST (2017).
In early 2020, Johnny starred as Mr Knightly opposite Anya Taylor-Joy in Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic 1815 novel EMMA. The Focus Features and Working Title film has an all-star cast including Bill Nighy, Josh O’Connor, Mia Goth and Miranda Hart.
Johnny was recently seen in noir thriller CORDELIA, alongside Antonia Campbell-Hughes directed by Adrian Shergold.
This month will see him portray a young David Bowie in STARDUST; the film portrays a single although pivotably year of his life during Bowie’s first visit to the US in 1971 – a trip that inspired the invention of his iconic alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Johnny’s role as David Bowie secured him the Raindance Jury’s Best Actor prize for his role in November 2020. Stardust will have its theatrical release on 15th January in the UK.
Johnny will also be seen in THE DIG, a Netflix feature film set in World War 2 based on the novel by John Preston. He stars opposite Lily James, Ben Chaplin and Ralph Fiennes, due out theatrically on 15th January 2021 in the UK and US and globally on Netflix the 29th January.
Johnny has most recently been cast in Holocaust drama ONE LIFE, opposite Anthony Hopkins, a feature film based on the life of humanitarian Nicholas George Winton for BBC Films and See-Saw Films. He has also been cast in the role of Dickie Greenleaf, in Steve Zaillian’s RIPLEY for Showtime - Johnny will star opposite Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley.
Johnny recently finished filming THE SCORE, for which he has also written the soundtrack and is an executive producer. The film is a heist musical that sees two small time crooks drive to a secluded roadside cafe for a big ‘score’. Directed by Malachi Smyth, THE SCORE also stars Will Poulter and Naomi Ackie.
Johnny was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role of young Albert Einstein in National Geographic’s anthology GENIUS (2017). Other previous roles on television include ITV drama VANITY FAIR (2018); the BBC adaptation of LES MISERABLES (2018); and British romantic comedy LOVESICK (2014-2018).
Johnny’s stage credits include lead in the London West End production of Sam Shepard’s TRUE WEST (2018) opposite Kit Harington; critically acclaimed HANGMEN (2018) on Broadway; THE TWELFTH NIGHT (2013) at The Globe/Apollo Theatre; and JERUSALEM (2012) for which he was nominated for an Oliver Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor.
With his band JOHNNY FLYNN & THE SUSSEX WIT he has released four studio albums and toured the world. He has scored and composed for numerous Film, TV, Theatre and Radio projects. His much-loved music for THE DETECTORISTS is a favourite at weddings.
Simon Russell Beale as Winston Churchill
Sir Simon Russell Beale was educated at St Paul’s Cathedral Choir School and Clifton College in Bristol. After graduating with a first in English at Cambridge University he began training as an opera singer before he turned to acting. He started his theatrical career at The Royal Court, and went on to the Royal Shakespeare Company for 8 years. Since then, he has spent 20 years at The National Theatre. Not only has Russell Beale performed all over the world, he has also appeared in award winning TV and film. Russell Beale has presented many BBC programmes about classical music. In 2003 he was appointed a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to the Arts. In 2019 Simon received a Knighthood for his services to Drama.
Theatre credits include: A Christmas Carol (Bridge Theatre), The Lehman Trilogy (National Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, The Armory, New York & Nederlander Theatre New York); The Tempest, King Lear, Ghosts, Richard III, The Seagull, Edward II, Troilus & Cressida, The Man of Mode, Restoration (RSC); The Lehman Trilogy, King Lear, Timon of Athens (Critics' Circle Award), Collaborators, London Assurance, A Slight Ache, Major Barbara, Much Ado About Nothing, The Alchemist, Life of Galileo, Jumpers, Humble Boy, Hamlet (Evening Standard Best Actor & Critics' Circle Award), Battle Royal, Candide (Olivier Award Winner for Best Actor in Musical), Summerfolk, Money, Othello, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Volpone (National Theatre - Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor), Mr Foote’s Other Leg (Hampstead/ Haymarket); Temple, The Philanthropist (Evening Standard and Critics' Circle Best Actor), Uncle Vanya (Obie Award), Twelfth Night (Donmar Warehouse - Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and Olivier Awards for Best Actor); The Hothouse (Trafalgar Studios); Privates On Parade (Noel Coward Theatre); Bluebird (Atlantic Theatre, New York); The Cherry Orchard, The Winter’s Tale (BAM, World Tour, Old Vic); Monty Python’s Spamalot (Palace Theatre, London & Schubert Theatre, New York); Julius Caesar (Barbican / International Tour); Richard II, Macbeth (Almeida Theatre); Jumpers (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York); Jumpers (Piccadilly Theatre); Humble Boy (Gielgud Theatre).
Television includes: Vanity Fair, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, Penny Dreadful, Under The Covers, Monteverdi, Legacypark, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, God’s Country, Symphony, Spooks, Sacred Christmas Music, American Experience, Dunkirk, Great Historians, Gibbon, A Dance To The Music Of Time.
Film includes: Benediction, Operation Mincemeat, Radioactive, Operation Finale, The Death of Stalin (Winner of 2017 British Independent Film Awards for Best Supporting Actor), Mary Queen of Scots, Museo, My Cousin Rachel, Tarzan, Savannah, Into The Woods, The Deep Blue Sea, My Week With Marilyn, Hamlet.
Radio includes: War & Peace, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, The Sisterhood, Waiting For Godot, Art, Radio 4 book of the Week: The Other Paris, Dead Girls Tell No Tales, Radio 4 Book of the Week: The Story of Alice, Victory, A Spy Among Friends, The Screwtape Letters, The Organist’s Daughter, Prom: National Theatre Orchestra, Twenty Minutes – Wagner, Suspicion In Ten Voices, Copenhagen, Collaborators, Olympiad / Shakespeare, In Tune, The Secret Pilgrim, Smiley’s People, Chekhov’s Gun, The Honourable Schoolboy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Looking Glass War, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, A Murder of Quality, Call For The Dead, Words & Music: Joy, A Shropshire Lad.
Book narration includes: The Book of Dust, Volumes 1 &2, The Romanovs, De Profundis, A Dance to The Music of Time, Hamlet, The Tempest, Measure For Measure.
Concerts include: BBC Proms, Dancers On A Tightrope, Façade, Music & Poetry: Auden & Britten, The Firebrand Of Florence. He also performs Rêverie – The life and loves of Claude Debussy with concert pianist, Lucy Parham.
Mark Gatiss as Ivor Montagu
Mark Gatiss has had a long and varied career as a writer, director and producer behind the camera, as well as being a critically-acclaimed actor and published author.
His early success on television was as part of the comedy troupe The League of Gentlemen, for which he both wrote and appeared onscreen as various characters.
He had a childhood passion for Doctor Who and both wrote for and starred in the modern revival. He was also the writer and executive producer of An Adventure in Space and Time, a 90 minute dramatisation of the genesis of the series as part of the show’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2013.
Mark is the co-creator and executive producer of Sherlock, the hit BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman which has seen unprecedented global success and in which he also plays Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes. The show has won a total of nine Emmys and twelve BAFTAs across its four series.
Mark’s other writing credits for television include episodes of Nighty Night (2004 – 2005) Crooked House (2008), two episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot, his adaptation of HG Well’s The First Men in the Moon (2010) and all three episodes of the documentary series A History of Horror (2010) and its one-off sequel Horror Europa (2012), all of which he presented as well. Most recently he wrote and presented two art documentaries for BBC4 - one on John Minton and the other on Aubrey Beardsley.
In 2017, he curated and directed Queers – a series of eight monologues for BBC Four to mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act which saw the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality.
Recent acting roles include The Duke of Marlborough in the BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated The Favourite (2018), Giles Winslow in Disney’s Christopher Robin (2018), Robert Cecil in BBC One’s Gunpowder (2017), Stephen Gardiner in Wolf Hall (2015), Peter Mandelson in James Graham’s Coalition (2015) for Channel Four and Tycho Nestoris in HBO’s Game of Thrones (2014-2017). In May 2019 it was announced that he will be starring opposite Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman in the screen adaptation of Florian Zeller’s The Father.
On stage, he has starred alongside Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus (2013), as Harold in Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band (2016) and as Doctor Shpigelsky in Patrick Marber’s adaptation of Turgenev’s Three Days in the Country for which he received the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. In November 2018 he took the titular role in The Madness of George III at the Nottingham Playhouse - the best-selling show in the theatre’s history.
Most recently he co-created and executive produced the BBC and Netflix drama Dracula.
Director – John Madden
Having spent the earlier years of his career as an award-winning director for television, radio and stage, John Madden made his first feature film, ETHAN FROME, starring Liam Neeson and Patricia Arquette, in 1990. He followed this with GOLDEN GATE which starred Matt Dillon and Joan Chen.
For TV, PRIME SUSPECT – THE LOST CHILD received a BAFTA nomination for Best Series, and John’s BBC film TRUTH OR DARE, starring John Hannah and Helen Baxendale, won the Scottish BAFTA for Best Single Drama. His 1998 film MRS BROWN starred Judi Dench and Billy Connolly, and received two Oscar and eight BAFTA nominations, including Best Film. John then directed SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, which received three Golden Globe Awards, four BAFTA's, and seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. After directing CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN, which starred Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz and John Hurt, John directed the Pulitzer Prize winning play PROOF, by David Auburn, at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, followed by the screen version - also with Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins and Jake Gyllenhaal. John followed PROOF with KILLSHOT starring Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane and Joseph Gordon Levitt, and THE DEBT, starring Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain.
In 2012, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was released worldwide by Fox Searchlight Pictures, and became the most successful independent film of 2012 in the US, with a worldwide box office total of $140 million. The film received 2 Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture and Best Actress in the Comedy/Musical category, as well as a BAFTA nomination for Best British Film. The film’s companion piece, THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, followed in 2015.
Between the first and second Marigold films, John developed the script for THE BFG with Melissa Mathison, and directed the pilot for MASTERS OF SEX, with Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, for Showtime, which ran for four seasons. John’s 2016 film MISS SLOANE earned a Golden Globe nomination for Jessica Chastain.
Producer – Charles S. Cohen of Cohen Media Group
Charles S. Cohen is an American real estate developer, film distributor and producer, and patron of the arts. He is the owner, president and CEO of Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation, a private commercial real estate development and management firm with a portfolio of Class A commercial office buildings and design centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, and South Florida. He also is the chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, which he formed in 2008 to produce and distribute independent and arthouse films throughout North America. CMG is today the largest American distributor of French films in the United States, while its specialty home entertainment label, the Cohen Film Collection, releases restored and remastered editions of classic Hollywood and foreign films on Digital platforms, Blu-ray and DVD.
In 2014, Charles S. Cohen took over the reins at one of New York City’s most revered movie houses, the historic Quad Cinema in the heart of Greenwich Village. Cohen plans to fully refurbish the existing theater, offering cinema lovers a historic transformation of the Quad Cinema, which was unveiled in 2017. A long time champion of independent and foreign film, Charles S. Cohen’s experience in theater design includes the renovation of New York’s AMPAS Academy Theater at Lighthouse International at 59th street in New York City and the building of the SilverScreen Theater inside the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Under Cohen's direction, the Quad will continue to show critically acclaimed foreign and independent films, as well as restored titles from The Cohen Film Collection, and repertory films from other leading distributors, in a professionally curated way.
Cohen serves on the board of trustees of the Lighthouse Guild, Real Estate Board of New York, Museum of Art and Design and The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). He has been honored twice by the Republic of France: In 2014, he received the Ordre National Du Mérite (National Order of Merit) from the French President for his efforts in promoting French cinema and art, and in 2015, he received the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters).
Cohen was lead executive producer of 2008’s Frozen River, which received two Academy Award nominations and won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize. He directed and produced a short film that won a Kodak Movie Award, and produced Oscar winner Chuck Workman’s documentary Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles and What is Cinema?
Producers – Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films
Academy Award®, BAFTA and Emmy-winning producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman founded See-Saw Films in 2008 and have produced a number of prestige projects, including six-time Academy Award® nominated Lion, starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara, as well as The King’s Speech, which was nominated for twelve and won four Academy Awards® in 2011 including Best Motion Picture; Academy Award®-winner Steve McQueen’s Widows starring Academy Award®- winner Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall; The Power Of The Dog, written and directed by Jane Campion, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, which premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival and where Campion won the Silver Lion for Best Direction; Francis Lee’s Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. On the television side, they executive produced Jane Campion’s Emmy Award-winning TV series ‘Top of the Lake’ and its Golden Globe nominated second season ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’ starring Elisabeth Moss, Nicole Kidman and Gwendoline Christie; three-time Emmy-winning short form series ‘State of the Union’, written by Nick Hornby, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd; and ‘The North Water’ written and directed by Andrew Haigh, starring Colin Farrell, Jack O’Connell and Stephen Graham.
Upcoming film projects include The Stranger, written and directed by Thomas M. Wright, starring Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris; and The Son, directed by Florian Zeller and written by Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton, starring Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern and Vanessa Kirby.
Upcoming TV projects include a second season of ‘State of the Union’ starring Brendan Gleeson and Patricia Clarkson; ‘Slow Horses’ for Apple TV+, starring Gary Oldman, Jack Lowden and Kristen Scott Thomas; ‘The Essex Serpent’ for Apple TV+ to be directed by Clio Barnard, starring Claire Danes; and ‘Heartstopper’ for Netflix adapted by Alice Oseman from her bestselling book series, directed by Euros Lyn.
See-Saw has an in-house sales arm Cross City Films, which handles international sales of its titles in select territories.
See-Saw has two joint venture production companies: I Am That – with creator/director Garth Davis (‘Lion’), and Picking Scabs – with writer/showrunner Samantha Strauss (‘The End’).
Producer – Kris Thykier of Archery
Kris Thykier founded Archery Pictures in 2014. Since its launch, Thykier has developed and produced three series of the television series RIVIERA for Sky Atlantic, and the limited series THE STATE for Channel 4 / Nat Geo. Thykier also recently produced the feature film TOLKIEN starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins for Fox Searchlight.
Thykier is currently Executive Producing the Netflix fantasy series FATE: THE WINX SAGA, due for release in 2021.
In January 2021 Thykier announced the start of a multi-year strategic alliance with Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures. Archery Pictures and Green Door Pictures will work together in partnership on selected projects in both TV and film.
In November 2020 Thykier launched Mews Films, a new production label focussed on the development of a slate of comedy movies for the domestic UK theatrical market. The venture is a partnership with Danny Perkins’s Elysian Film Group.
Before launching Archery Pictures, Thykier headed PeaPie Films: one of the UK’s leading independent film producers. Films produced by Thykier under the PeaPie banner include the political thriller MISS SLOANE starring Jessica Chastain; the epic love story ALI & NINO, written by Christopher Hampton; John Wells’ BURNT, staring Bradley Cooper; and WOMAN IN GOLD, directed by Simon Curtis and starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. Thykier also developed and produced TRASH with Working Title, directed by Stephen Daldry and based on a screenplay by Richard Curtis.
Other features produced by Thykier include ONE CHANCE, I GIVE IT A YEAR, W.E., ILL MANORS, THE DEBT, SUMMER OF ’92, HARRY BROWN, KICKASS and STARDUST.
Screenwriter – Michelle Ashford
Michelle is the creator and executive producer of the Showtime drama MASTERS OF SEX. She has written for the HBO miniseries JOHN ADAMS and THE PACIFIC. She adapted UNDAUNTED COURAGE, the Stephen Ambrose account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, also for HBO. Michelle’s most recent feature scripts include OPERATION MINCEMEAT, a non-fiction spy story set in WWII based on Ben Macintyre’s book, THE SKIES BELONG TO US, another non-fiction story about the golden age of hijacking, and CAT PERSON from The New Yorker short-story “Cat Person” which went viral in 2017. She is currently adapting CITY OF GIRLS, based on the Elizabeth Gilbert novel for Warner Bros. She has written numerous pilots, both network and cable, and her other series credits include BOOMTOWN, LA DOCTORS, and NEW YORK NEWS.
Author – Ben Macintyre
Ben Macintyre has written a weekly column in The Times since 1998 on history, espionage, art, politics and foreign affairs. Before taking up his current post as Writer at Large and Associate Editor on the newspaper, he was the editor of The Times Weekend Review, a weekly supplement covering the arts and literature. He joined the newspaper in 1992 as New York Correspondent, and went on to become Paris Bureau Chief and then US Editor, based in Washington, before returning to the UK in 2002 as parliamentary sketch-writer.
He is the author of thirteen non-fiction history books, including the bestselling wartime trilogy Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat and Double Cross. Operation Mincemeat, shortlisted for the National Book Awards, was the number one Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and paperback, remaining in the top ten for 21 weeks. A Spy Among Friends was also a number one bestseller, as was SAS: Rogue Heroes, which remained in the top ten paperback bestseller chart for 15 weeks. His last six books have each been New York Times and Sunday Times bestsellers. The Spy and the Traitor (2018), was described by John le Carré as “The best true spy story I have ever read.” Agent Sonya (2020) was also a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ben Macintyre’s books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, and have been translated into more than 25 languages.
Director of Photography – Sebastian Blenkov
Sebastian has just finished on OPERATION MINCEMEAT, his most recent collaboration with director John Madden with whom he previously worked together on MISS SLOANE starring Jessica Chastain for Archery Pictures. He also has a longstanding relationship with director Lone Scherfig having filmed three films together; KINDNESS OF STRANGERS which opened the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 and was nominated for the Golden Bear, THEIR FINEST starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy and THE RIOT CLUB starring Douglas Booth, Max Irons and Sam Claflin.
Production Designer – John Paul Kelly
John-Paul Kelly is an award-winning Production Designer, best known for his work on James Marsh’s “The Theory of Everything”, Justin Chadwick’s “The Other Boleyn Girl” and the BBC’s “The Lost Prince” for which he won an EMMY and BAFTA TV Award.
His TV work includes the BBC’s “Madame Bovary”, "A Number", “Shooting the Past” and "Byron" both of which gained him an RTS award nomination.
JP’s other film work includes Carine Adler’s “Under the Skin”, Paul Greengrass’s award-winning “Bloody Sunday”, Richard Curtis’s “About Time”, Sharon Maguire’s “Bridget Jones’s Baby” and Jon S Baird’s “Stan and Ollie”. JP is also a regular collaborator with Roger Michell, having worked on his films “Enduring Love”, “Venus” and “Blackbird” starring Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska. His work can currently be seen in Edward Hall’s “Blithe Spirit” starring Dan Stevens, Judi Dench, Isla Fisher and Leslie Mann.
Editor – Victoria Boydell
Victoria Boydell began her career as an assistant, working on iconic films such as THE CRYING GAME, ORLANDO, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and TWELVE MONKEYS. It was not long before Victoria began editing in her own right, on television dramas including HUSTLE, COMING UP, SPOOKS and LUTHER. In 2009, Victoria received her first BAFTA and RTS award nominations for Best Editing on the Iraq set mini-series OCCUPATION directed by Nick Murphy for ARTE and the BBC.
Other television credits include RANDOM for Hillbilly films starring Nadine Marshall and Daniel Kaluuya, for which Victoria was also nominated for the RTS Awards, GREAT EXPECTATIONS for the BBC directed by Brian Kirk, which led to further RTS and BAFTA Craft nominations, Channel Four’s mini-series SOUTHCLIFFE directed by Sean Durkin, and Working Title’s LONDON SPY starring Ben Wishaw, for which Victoria received another BAFTA Craft nomination.
Victoria’s work saw her being awarded with the Panalux Craft Award at the Women in Film and Television Awards.
Her feature film credits include Rufus Norris’ celebrated debut feature BROKEN, Pathe’s AFRICA UNITED, BELLE directed by Amma Asante, John Madden’s THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Simon Curtis’ GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN starring Margot Robbie, and Dan Friedkin’s THE LAST VERMEER with Guy Pearce and Claes Bang.
Last year, Victoria collaborated once again with director John Madden on the upcoming WW2 period drama OPERATION MINCEMEAT produced by See-Saw Films.
Costume Designer – Andrea Flesch
Andrea is an award-winning Costume Designer from Budapest, whose early credits include a string of European productions that were shot in Hungary: THE PIANO PLAYER for Studio Hamburg, the British feature MRS RADCLIFFE’S REVOLUTION starring Catherine Tate and Ian Glen, BETRAYAL with Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rebecca Daly’s THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP for Ireland’s Fasnet Films, US horror film OPEN GRAVE directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego and Spanish family franchise ZIP & ZAP.
In 2003, Andrea designed Peter Greenaway’s THE TULSE LUPER SUITCASES trilogy and A LIFE IN SUITCASE, both produced by Kees Kasander for whom she later worked on CRUSADE IN JEANS, starring Michael Culkin and Johnny Flynn.
In 2014, Andrea worked on the acclaimed film THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY directed by Peter Strickland, with Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D’Anna playing the leads. The critically praised feature THE CHILDHOOD OF A LEADER directed by Brad Corbett followed. The film starred with Bérénice Bejo, Robert Pattinson and Liam Cunningham.
Andrea’s television credits include X COMPANY with directors David Frazee and John Strickland, for which she was nominated for Best Costume Design at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2016 and 2017.
In 2017, Andrea shot Wash Westmoreland’s COLETTE produced by Number 9 Films, starring Keira Knightly and Dominic West. Andrea’s work on the film culminated in Best Costume Design nominations at the British Independent Film Awards, Seattle Film Critics Award and Satellite Awards from the International Press Academy.
Andrea’s recent work includes Ari Aster’s Scandinavian set feature MIDSOMMAR for B-Reel Films, with Florence Pugh, Will Poulter and Jack Raynor, and THE STORY OF MY WIFE for Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi, featuring Lea Seydoux and Louis Garrel. Andrea’s latest design work can be seen in John Madden’s upcoming WW2 period feature OPERATION MINCEMEAT for See-Saw Films, starring Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Kelly Macdonald.
Andrea is currently designing DANGEROUS LIAISONS directed by Leo Lonsdale for Playground Entertainment and Starz.
Hair, Makeup and Prosthetics Designer – Denise Kum
Denise Kum studied Sculpture at The Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, New Zealand. In 1999, Denise moved to London where she completed a Master of Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College. Her artwork has been included in public collections at The Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, The Financial Times London, Saatchi and Saatchi, and The Chartwell Collection, Auckland. It was Denise’s long-standing fascination with materiality which led her to start a career in prosthetics and make-up.
On Disney’s MULAN, Denise Kum reunited with director Niki Caro, having worked together on several films previously, including THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE with Jessica Chastain, NORTH COUNTRY with Charlize Theron, and the critically acclaimed WHALE RIDER, for which she was nominated for the New Zealand Film and TV Awards.
Other feature film work includes Gillian Armstrong’s DEATH DEFYING ACTS starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Guy Pearce and Saoirse Ronan; Brad McGann’s IN MY FATHER’S DEN with Matthew Macfadyen; Sergio G. Sánchez’s THE SECRET OF MARROWBONE featuring George MacKay and Anya Taylor-Joy; 7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE directed by Jose Padilha, with Daniel Bruhl and Rosamund Pike; Matthew Heineman’s A PRIVATE WAR; a bio of war correspondent Marie Colvin, and RADIOACTIVE, a film about Marie Curie’s life directed by Marjane Satrapi, both films starred Rosamund Pike.
Denise designed make-up, hair, and prosthetics on two seasons of SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND, Sam Raimi’s first episode of ASH VS EVIL DEAD, and previously worked with director Dominic Savage on the ITV movie DIVE.
Denise’ most recent credits are John Madden’s OPERATION MINCEMEAT starring Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen and Kelly Macdonald, and THE WHEEL OF TIME, a fantasy TV series for Sony Pictures, starring Kae Alexander, Priyanka Bose and Rosamund Pike.
Composer – Thomas Newman
Thomas Newman is widely acclaimed as one of today’s most prominent composers for film. He has composed music for more than 80 motion pictures and television series and has earned fourteen Academy Award nominations, one Emmy Award and six Grammy Awards.
He is the youngest son of Alfred Newman (1900-1970), the longtime musical director of 20th Century Fox and the composer of scores for such films as Wuthering Heights, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Diary of Anne Frank and All About Eve. As a child, Thomas pursued basic music and piano studies. However, it was not until after his father’s death that the younger Newman, then age 14, felt charged with the desire to write. He later studied composition and orchestration at USC with Professor Frederick Lesemann and noted film composer David Raksin, and privately with composer George Tremblay. He completed his academic work at Yale University, studying with Jacob Druckman, Bruce MacCombie and Robert Moore. Newman also gratefully acknowledges the early influence of another prominent musician, the legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, who served as a great mentor and champion.
A turning point in Newman’s career took place while he was working as a musical assistant on the 1984 film, Reckless, for which he soon was promoted to the position of composer. And so, at the age of 27, Newman successfully composed his first film score. Since then he has contributed distinctive and evocative scores to many acclaimed films, including Desperately Seeking Susan, The Lost Boys, The Rapture, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Player, Scent of a Woman, Flesh and Bone, The Shawshank Redemption, Little Women, American Buffalo, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Oscar and Lucinda, The Horse Whisperer, Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile, Erin Brockovich, In The Bedroom, Road to Perdition, Finding Nemo, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Cinderella Man, Jarhead, Little Children, The Good German, Revolutionary Road, Wall-E, The Help, The Iron Lady, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Skyfall, Spectre, Victoria & Abdul, The Highwaymen, Tolkien, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, and the critically acclaimed 1917. Newman also composed the music for HBO’s acclaimed 6-hour miniseries Angels in America directed by Mike Nichols. He received an Emmy Award for his theme for the HBO original series Six Feet Under. His current film projects include director Steven Soderbergh’sLet Them All Talk and director John Lee Hancock’s Little Things.
In addition to his work in film and television, Newman has composed several works for the concert stage, including the symphonic workReach Forth Our Hands, commissioned in 1996 by the Cleveland Orchestra to commemorate their city’s bicentennial, as well as At Ward’s Ferry, Length 180 ft., a concerto for double bass and orchestra commissioned in 2001 by the Pittsburgh Symphony. His latest concert piece was a chamber work entitled It Got Dark, commissioned by the acclaimed Kronos Quartet in 2009. As part of a separate commission by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the work was expanded and adapted for symphony orchestra and string quartet, and premiered at Walt Disney Concert Hall in December of 2009. In October 2014, Newman and musician Rick Cox released “35 Whirlpools Below Sound,” an evocative, contemporary collection of avant-garde electronic soundscapes which the two collaborators developed over a period of 25 years, and which constitutes a fascinating departure from Newman’s work in film music. Newman also was commissioned by the prestigious Joffrey Ballet in Chicago to compose the score for a new ballet adaptation of the Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men, which is scheduled to premiere in 2021.