Matilda The Musical — starring Ralph Fiennes as bullying, hammer-throwing headmistress Agatha Trunchbull — has become a top priority film for Hollywood.
Fiennes is now officially signed on to make the picture for director Matthew Warchus, though he (and everyone else) will have to wait until lockdown is lifted, and for the complex rescheduling of his next assignments to be sorted out, before the cameras roll.
The whole question of when filmmaking can start again in this country is a thorny one. With foreign stars reluctant to travel, could the rest of the cast be found in the UK?
Jodie Comer attends The BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles
Take the part of Miss Honey, the kind-hearted teacher who befriends super-bright Matilda, heroine of Roald Dahl's 1988 book that was turned into a musical by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, and which Warchus staged.
Emma Stone's name had been 'in the air' when I wrote about this story back in January. Now, though, I understand that Jodie Comer is the favourite to play Miss Honey.
Comer and Fiennes, the actors behind two of our most deadly screen villains — Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort and Killing Eve's Villanelle — made a commitment last year to work together, after meeting about the possibility of appearing in the altogether less hazardous Willy Russell comedy, Educating Rita, directed by Warchus (a great idea, but one that was abandoned due to conflicting schedules).
But Comer's desire to play Miss Honey could be hampered by the fact that she's contracted to do series four of Killing Eve.
Plus, she's required to complete work on Ridley Scott's swashbuckler The Last Duel, which was shooting in Ireland when the shutdown started. Indeed, Matt Damon, one of that film's leading men, has been sheltering in place over there ever since.
Ralph Fiennes arrives for the CineMerit Award ceremony at the Munich Film Festival
However, what makes Matilda so attractive to producers at Netflix and Working Title — aside from the creative team and cast — is that it can be filmed on sound stages and the backlot here in Britain.
Presently, insurers are refusing to insure films against the pandemic. This is a huge problem — if an actor is unable to work because of the virus, then there's no one to cover the phenomenal daily costs of shutting down a production.
One idea being discussed within the industry is for every single member of the cast and crew to be quarantined for two (or more) weeks before shooting starts. Once it does, no outsiders would be allowed on set until filming is complete.
As someone said about the apocalyptic new reality — and please pardon my French — 'It's going to be a cluster****'.
More than likely filming on Matilda won't happen now until late this year or, more realistically, next.
The stage show originated at the Royal Shakespeare Company and starred the incredible Bertie Carvel, who won a ton of awards as the terrifying Trunchbull, before moving to the West End (where it remains) and Broadway.
Samantha Barks who sung the hit 'On My Own' in the movie version of Les Miserables
One of the songs often cited in the lists of those that have helped many through the endless hours at home has been On My Own, from Les Miserables.
'It's absolutely one of the anthems right now,' Samantha Barks agreed. She performed the song in the Oscar-nominated screen version of the blockbuster theatre show that has broken records for its longevity. Frances Ruffelle first sang it on the Barbican stage when she created the role of Eponine in Les Mis back in 1985.
What people are enduring at the moment 'gives the song a whole new meaning' said Barks, who has been staying at home in London since mid-March. When she gives her first West End solo concert, planned for September 6 at the Adelphi Theatre, On My Own 'will definitely be there', she promised.
In the meantime she has borrowed a friend's sewing machine to help make scrubs for a charity to give away to NHS and care workers. 'You look at all the people working so hard to keep us safe,' she said. 'And besides, it's being creative!'
Barks had been dreaming about her own show for ages — and then producers Jamie Lambert and Eliza Jackson offered her the opportunity to make that dream come true.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
'When we first started talking about it, it was very different from how it is now,' she told me, referring to both the world and her idea of what she would include on the track list. It is now very different to what she had in mind even a few months ago.
'It's thinking about whatever way you can to put a smile on people's faces,' she said, as we discussed how popular standards such as Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again have comforted