I'm not sure which part of this story is the most surprising -- the fact that they are really remaking My Fair Lady, or that Keira Knightley wants the lead. Decide amongst yourselves.
According to Variety, Columbia Pictures is prepping the remake, which will be produced by Duncan Kenworthy and Cameron Mackintosh, as we speak. While they are calling it an update of the musical, it's not a drastic one. The movie will keep the 1912 setting and the score, but introduce more story elements from George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion.
They plan to develop Eliza's character a bit more, giving her additional emotional depth, and dramatizing her highs and lows. I actually really like that idea, as I always found her rather cartoonish, and her return to Professor Higgins a bit perplexing. They also plan to shoot in the real London locations, from Drury Lane to the Ascot racecourse, as opposed to the soundstages of 1964. They may top the locations, but they'll never beat Cecil Beaton's iconic and stunning costumes.
As musicals are freshened up and brought back to the stage all the time, I don't find anything particularly distressing about this news. I'm one of those who pines for the return of the big-budget musical, which never seems to really happen. That's actually what surprises me most about Columbia's interest in the project -- Mamma Mia! aside, musicals are still approached quite warily in Hollywood. The studio refused to comment on casting, so Knightley's name may disappear; as she seems to be the current go-to girl for corset pieces, it isn't remarkable that her name is up for consideration -- and at least they're not talking Scarlett Johansson.
On the other hand, Knightley was quite adamant that she would not sing again after The Edge of Love, telling Total Film that she found the experience too terrifying. Either she's relented, or they're planning to pay homage to Audrey Hepburn by dubbing her voice. I think she has the vocal chops to pull it off though -- check out a clip of her singing below -- and with her waif-like looks she's ideal for a flower-selling urchin.
I hope she does land the part. I know there are a number of musical fans out there, so I am dying to know what you think about this news -- both the potetial of Knightley as Eliza, and the idea of remaking My Fair Lady to begin with. Personally, they will crush me if they fail to cast Hugh Jackman as Henry Higgins.