There Are Now 2 Upcoming Fred Astaire Biopics, and Both Are Set to Star Former Billy Elliots | Playbill

Film & TV News There Are Now 2 Upcoming Fred Astaire Biopics, and Both Are Set to Star Former Billy Elliots

Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon will choreograph one of the dueling films.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in Top Hat RKO Pictures/New York Public Library

A Bugs Life vs. Antz... Dante's Peak vs. Volcano... Independence Day vs. Armageddon... and now we're adding two separate Fred Astaire biopics to the mix.

Yes, virtually all of Hollywood is reportedly looking to bring the famed movie-musical dancer's life to the screen. We learned of the first in 2020, a project titled Fred and Ginger that's set to star Jamie Bell and Margaret Qualley as Astaire and his most famous partner, Ginger Rogers, respectively.

According to Deadline, this film has added Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon to its roster of artists; the MJ The Musical director-choreographer will choreograph, working alongside previously announced director Jonathan Entwistle (The End of the F*cking World). Also new to the project are Grammy-winning The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical writers Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, who will collaborate with Mark Sonnenblick (Midnight at the Never Get) on music and dance numbers for the film. Though the project has reportedly moved on from Amazon, screenwriter Arash Amel (The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare) remains attached.

The second project will star Tom Holland as Astaire, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Paul King (Paddington) set to direct. It's unclear who will provide the steps for this currently untitled biopic, though the screenplay is being penned by Lee Hall, who won an Academy Award for his Billy Elliot screenplay and a Tony Award for his book to its stage musical adaptation (Lee also wrote lyrics to Elton John's score).

But the Billy Elliot connections don't stop there; both Bell and Holland are themselves former Billy Elliots. Bell created the role for the original film, while Holland played the role on stage in London's West End as a replacement.

Release dates for both projects remain unclear, though it appears the Bell-Qualley project is closer to starting production. Stay tuned.

Following separate careers in vaudeville, Broadway, and Hollywood, Astaire and Rogers were first paired onscreen in 1934's The Gay Divorcee. They would go on to make nine total films together, establishing themselves as the picture of onscreen style and elegance and, to many, one of the greatest film pairings of all time. Both were married to other people throughout their onscreen collaboration.

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