Angelina Jolie will star as legendary opera singer Maria Callas in a new biopic from Spencer‘s Pablo Larrain. Maria will tell the triumphant and tragic tale of the soprano during her last, isolated years in Paris in the 1970s.
Variety reports that Steven Knight will write the script for Maria. It is a passion project for Larrain, who said “Having the chance to combine my two most deep and personal passions, cinema and opera, has been a long-awaited dream.” Jolie commented on the daunting task of portraying an iconic figure like Callas, “I take very seriously the responsibility to Maria’s life and legacy. I will give all I can to meet the challenge.”
After breaking out in 1995’s Hackers, Jolie first received critical attention for her scene-stealing role in 1999’s Girl, Interrupted, which earned her an Oscar. She has since headlined blockbusters like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Maleficent, and the first two Tomb Raider films, while also directing a number of features herself, most recently the historical Khmer Rouge drama First They Killed My Father. She was most recently seen in last year’s MCU epic Eternals, and will next direct Without Blood, starring Salma Hayek.
Chilean director Larrain is best-known internationally for his two acclaimed English-language features; Jackie, which starred Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy, and Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, both of which earned Oscar nominations for their lead roles; he also directed the Stephen King miniseries Lisey’s Story. Screenwriter Knight wrote the script for Spencer, as well as Eastern Promises, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and Pawn Sacrifice; he has directed three features from his own scripts, including the Tom Hardy drama Locke and the much-maligned Matthew McConaughey mystery Serenity. He is also the co-creator of the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Born to Greek immigrant parents in 1923, Callas (born Sophie Cecilia Kalos) earned worldwide fame and acclaim for her unconventional and distinctive voice, and her ability to inhabit the characters she portrayed, becoming one of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century. However, in the mid-’50s, she began to lose her voice, which has variously been attributed to weight loss, health problems, and psychological issues, and her career became overshadowed by scandals, including her tempestuous relationship with her mother and a long-running affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. She was a recluse for several years before dying in 1977 of a heart attack, at age 53. Her life was previously adapted to film by her friend, director Franco Zeffirelli, who made Callas Forever in 2002, starring Fanny Ardant.
Maria will be produced by Juan de Dios Larraín for Fabula Pictures, Lorenzo Mieli for The Apartment Pictures (a Fremantle Company), and Jonas Dornbach for Komlizen Film.