rothko cast

Russell Crowe is about to bring another (more literal) meaning to “Death of the Artist,” with his title role in director Sam Taylor-Johnson‘s next film. Crowe is set to play the role of influential American abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko in Rothko, a drama that chronicles the true story of Rothko’s daughter’s legal battle to protect her late father’s legacy.

Rocket Science announced that Oscar winner Russell Crowe is set to play Mark Rothko in Taylor-Johnson’s true-story drama, which features a star-studded ensemble including Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Tenet), Michael Stuhlbarg (Shirley), and Jared Harris (Chernobyl).

Franciosi gets the major role of Kate Rothko, whose legal battle to preserve her father’s legacy is chronciled in the book The Legacy of Mark Rothko by Lee Seldes, upon which Rothko is based. Lara Wood pens the screenplay, which tells the story of Rothko’s “uncompromising ‘David vs Goliath’ fight against a corrupt elite to protect her late father’s legacy and bring his art back to the people.”

Here is the synopsis for Rothko from the official press release:

Rothko is a film about courage against adversity in the face of insurmountable odds. The Rothko trial – and the events that preceded it – is the shocking account of how a seemingly powerless young woman takes on an unscrupulous group of powerful middle-aged men – and wins.  At 19, Kate Rothko finds herself suddenly both an orphan and a mother to her younger brother Topher (age 7). Alone and inexperienced, she turns to her father’s three closest friends for guidance – anthropology professor Morton Levine; Theodore Stamos a semi-successful painter and accountant turned gallery director Bernard J. Reis. When she discovers these men have put in place an elaborate scheme to sell Mark Rothko’s art fraudulently, she moves heaven and earth to prevent this blatant abuse of her father’s trust.  Bereaved but armed with the conviction that justice must prevail, Kate is ready to lose everything. With the help of assistant Attorney General Gus Harrow, she takes on a legal battle that would rumble on for more than four years and expose the underhanded greed of the supposedly genteel art world.

Rothko will be Taylor-Johnson’s feature follow-up to her 2018 drug addict drama A Million Little Pieces, also starring her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson, based on the “memoir” by James Frey which was later exposed to be a fraudulent piece of fiction. The controversy surrounding that story appears to have not deterred Taylor-Johnson from adapting true-life dramas, nor from taking on a project with impressive talent that honestly sounds a little on the boring side.

Taylor-Johnson said in a statement, “Rothko is not just a movie about the great artist, but rather a timeless story about right versus wrong. It’s Kate Rothko’s journey to protect the seminal paintings from the corrupt men who betrayed her father and stole his art; it is a reckoning with men in positions of power who try everything to destroy her father’s legacy.”

Jared Freedman and David Silverton (Rising Son) will produce alongside Sam Taylor-Johnson and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, while Jonathan Schwartz and Logan Lerman are executive producing. Rothko will shoot in summer 2021.

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