Emmerich Casts Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis And Rhys Ifans In Anonymous, His Shakespeare Film

Roland Emmerich has his long-term sights set on Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, which he recently talked about making in 3D with extensive mo-cap. But first he'll turn to the work of William Shakespeare. Or, rather, the 'controversy' behind the works.

Emmerich's next film is Anonymous, described as a thriller, which leaps off from the idea that the works of Shakespeare were actually penned by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. I'd long been under the impression that there was insufficient evidence to lend much credit to this theory, but perhaps Emmerich knows something many others don't.

The director describes the film to Empire, leading off with three new cast members. Vanessa Redgrave is Queen Elizabeth; David Thewlis is William Cecil; and Rhys Ifans is the Earl of Oxford. That's a killer lineup, and I love that Ifans will be central to the cast. Edward Hogg was recently cast as Robert Cecil, the Queen's secretary of state.

Emmerich further describes Anonymous as a mix of various impulses.

It's an historical thriller because it's about who will succeed Queen Elizabeth and the struggle of the people who want to have a hand in it. It's the Tudors on one side and the Cecils on the other, and in between [the two] is the Queen. Through that story we tell how the plays written by the Earl of Oxford ended up labelled 'William Shakespeare'.

Given the man's predilection for blowing stuff up real good, I can't say I'm too excited to see this, but I'm definitely curious. Emmerich isn't exactly a master of tension, in the classic thriller sense. Can he make this work? He's got the right idea with the cast, at least.

Also, a note about 2013, the proposed television series follow-up to Emmerich's last film, 2012. The note is: it ain't happening. While not 100% dead, it doesn't sound likely to happen at all. MovieWeb talked to Emmerich, who said:

The TV people [ed.note: like in Poltergeist?] soon realized what we really wanted to do with the concept. They said, "You cannot do this on television." So I said, "Let's not do it. It was just too big for TV. What we wanted to do...It's not totally dead. Mark Gordon is still trying to come up with an idea on how to make it cheaper. I don't think it will happen. I had a certain vision. We realized what kind of compromises we were going to have to make. Because of that, I said, "No thank you."