Since 2017’s “Darkest Hour,” for which Gary Oldman nabbed an Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, Joe Wright has had a rough go of it. His follow-up, “The Woman In The Window,” was first delayed, then shunted to Netflix because of the COVID-19 pandemic to negative reviews. Then last year’s musical “Cyrano” made barely a splash at the box office despite favorable reviews from critics. So, where does Wright go from here?
Variety reports that the director’s project returns him to the world of historical biopics. This time, however, Wright’s next project is a TV show, and it’s about one of the most infamous dictators of the 20th century: Italy’s Benito Mussolini. “M,” based on Antonio Scurati‘s bestselling novel “M. Son Of The Century,” follows Mussolini’s ascent to political power that sparked the birth of Fascism as an ideology. The show will be an eight-part series, with Wright teaming up with “Bones And All” producer Lorenzo Mieli.
Mieli spoke to Variety about “M” on the Lido at the Venice Film Festival and explained why he wants to do the series. “[Scurati] understood and put on paper, with facts and documents and everything, that Mussolini is the guy – him and only him – who created what we now know as populism and Fascism,” said Mieli. “Fascism is something that today is relevant for everyone. It’s been relevant for the past decades, but it’s especially relevant now all over the world,” Mieli added. “And it’s interesting because before Trump the U.S. and Anglo-Saxon culture thought Fascism was something that was not on their radar. But now it is. That’s why I thought of an Anglo-Saxon director .”
“M” will be Wright’s first work in television since he directed the episode “Nosedive” for the Netflix series “Black Mirror.” The show starts production soon at Rome’s Cinecittá Studios, with Mieli’s The Apartment producing along with Sky Studios and Pathé. Casting remains under wraps, but Mielie commented that an A-list actor will portray Mussolini.
As for Wright, Mieli thinks he’s a perfect fit for “M.” I love the way he’s dealt with politics [in ‘Darkest Hour’] and I love the way he changes genres,” Mieli said of Wright. Wright’s other work includes 2007’s “Atonement,” 2012’s “Anna Karenina” and the 2015 blockbuster “Pan.”
Expect “M” to premiere in 2024.