Posted on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 by Russ Fischer
Briefly: For a couple years, Werner Herzog has been moving towards a new dramatic feature, Queen of the Desert, which will chronicle the story of pioneering anthropologist/explorer/political advisor Gertrude Bell. While Naomi Watts was once set to play Bell, the role will now be filled by Nicole Kidman. To play Bell’s paramour, Lt. Col. Charles Doughty-Wylie, Herzog has now recruited Damian Lewis, whose notable recent work is on the Showtime series Homeland.
Deadline reports that the film will shoot beginning in December of this year.
The character to be played by Lewis was a British war hero who, while married, engaged in an affair with Bell during the last years of his life. But it was a very chaste affair, conducted entirely via letter correspondence. How does that become a compelling screen story? There can be quite a lot of narration and longing looks aimed to a point off-screen, for starters. But this could also be a device to let the screen version of Bell voice observations and frustrations as she goes about her work building what became the the early political incarnation of the modern Middle East.