Roman Polanski will direct the film version of the Broadway play Venus in Fur, a dark comedy about an actress auditioning before the director of an erotic play.
The show, written by David Ives, earned star Nina Arianda a best actress Tony Award this year for her role as Vanda, a seemingly naïve and desperate actress trying to win over the aloof show director, played by Hugh Dancy. (Both are pictured to the left.)
Polanski, however, has other actors in mind for his film — and a different language, too.
The Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby director intends to make his Venus in Fur in French, with his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Louis Garrel in the actress and director roles. It’s a significant shift, not just because of the language, which Polanski will adapt in collaboration with Ives. Seigner, who has two children with Polanski and appeared in his films The Ninth Gate, Bitter Moon, and Frantic, is 46 years old, while Arianda is approximately 28. Garrel, who co-starred in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 erotic drama The Dreamers, is 29 — while Dancy is 37.
The age difference could lend a new twist to the play’s power struggle — or is Polanski perhaps switching the gender roles and making the experienced director a woman and the manipulative young actor a man?
The filmmaker, of course, fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor and hasn’t been back since — so he hasn’t seen the Broadway show. In a statement announcing the film project, he said he read it. “I’ve been looking for a chance to make a film in French with Emmanuelle for a long time,” Polanski said. “Reading Venus in Fur, I realized the moment had arrived.”
He had previously intended to make another project, titled simply D., a dramatic thriller about the true 1894 Dreyfus Affair in which a Jewish captain in the French navy was falsely accused of treason. That film will now be backburnered while the script is reworked, Polanski said.
Venus in Fur, which begins shooting in Paris in November, will be independently financed. Lionsgate/Summit International will handle the film’s international sales and ICM will represent North American rights to the project.
Here’s a sample of the play:
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