ITV and Amazon Studios today announce that Oldham-born actress and rising Hollywood star Olivia Cooke has begun filming as Becky Sharp for the ITV adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.
Cooke (star of Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming film Ready Player One) will be joined by a star-studded cast including musician and actor Johnny Flynn (Genius) as Dobbin, Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as Sir Pitt Crawley, Frances de La Tour (The History Boys) as Miss Matilda Crawley, Suranne Jones (Doctor Foster) as Miss Pinkerton and Michael Palin as Thackeray himself.
Also joining the ensemble cast are Claudia Jessie (Line of Duty) who plays Becky’s confidante Amelia Sedley, with theatrical titan Simon Russell Beale and Claire Skinner (Outnumbered) as her parents, and David Flynn (School of Rock) as her brother Joss.
They join the previously announced Tom Bateman (Murder On The Orient Express) who takes the role of Captain Rawdon Crawley and Charlie Rowe (Salvation) as George Osborne.
Filming started in Budapest, with the shoot then continuing in locations in and around London.
Gwyneth Hughes’ adaptation of Thackeray’s literary classic is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, and follows modern heroine Becky Sharp as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society.
Her story of “villainy, crime, merriment, lovemaking, jilting, laughing, cheating, fighting and dancing”, takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking hearts and losing fortunes as she goes.
Vanity Fair was commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama Polly Hill and will premiere on the channel internationally before airing as an Amazon Prime Exclusive in the US.
Hill said: “Vanity Fair feels like the perfect classic to adapt for ITV, and Gwyneth Hughes’ stunning scripts bring the novel to life in a way that will really connect with a modern audience.
“The question was always who would be our perfect Becky Sharp and that is undoubtedly Olivia Cooke! So we are thrilled she has agreed to play Becky, in what promises to be a very exciting new drama for ITV next year.”
Damien Timmer commented: “Vanity Fair is a massive rollercoaster of a story and we’ve assembled an ensemble cast of real range to do it justice, from fast rising stars like Johnny Flynn and Tom Bateman to stage legends like Simon Russell Beale and household names like Suranne Jones and Martin Clunes, all orbiting Olivia Cooke’s irresistible Becky as she conquers the 21st century.
“We hope Thackeray would approve –and with Michael Palin playing him, why wouldn’t he?!”
Morgan Wandell, Head of International Series at Amazon Studios, added: “We’re thrilled to be working with ITV on what is truly a timeless tale of navigating around hierarchical society and class, and the parallels that exist today.
“Olivia is joined by a renowned ensemble cast and we’re excited to be debuting this contemporary take to our customers next year.”
Vanity Fair is produced by Julia Stannard (War & Peace, The Great Train Robbery, United) with James Strong (Liar, Broadchurch, United) directing the series. Mammoth Screen’s Managing Director Damien Timmer executive produces the series with Gwyneth Hughes, James Strong and Tom Mullens, with Victoria Fea executive producing for ITV.