Helen Mirren to star in Brouhaha Entertainment and Lunar Pictures’ ‘Switzerland’

Helen Mirren (Photo: Harald Krichel/Wikimedia Commons)

Helen Mirren is set to star as The Talented Mr. Ripley author Patricia Highsmith in Switzerland, a feature film to be produced by Brouhaha Entertainment and Lunar Pictures.

Joanna Murray-Smith has written the script based on her play of the same name, first commissioned by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2014 when Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett were artistic directors.

Switzerland depicts Highsmith’s late life solitude in the Swiss Alps, where she is interrupted by a young literary agent from New York who wants to persuade her to write one last novel in the Ripley series.

BAFTA-nominated Dutch director Anton Corbijn, known for the music videos of U2 and Depeche Mode as well as films such as Control and The American, is on board to helm the project, with a shoot planned in Europe later this year.

Casting for the male lead is currently underway. FilmNation is launching world sales at the European Film Market next week.

Gabrielle Tana, Troy Lum and Andrew Mason produce for Brouhaha and Jim Robison and Kurt Martin produce for Lunar Pictures. Executive producers include Rezistor Films’ Marc Furmie and Chris Chard of Chard Media Entertainment/CME Partners.

Robison and Martin first saw Murray-Smith’s play back in 2014, and were able to see its filmic potential immediately.

Since 2014, Switzerland has been performed around the world, including the LA Greffen Playhouse, with Laura Linney in the lead, and the UK’s West End with Phyllis Logan.

Lunar Pictures acquired the rights in 2022 and enlisted Murray-Smith to adapt her own work, with development funding support from VicScreen. While the play is essentially a two-hander, the film promises to be more expansive.

Lunar Pictures was initially shopping the project with a range of production partners around the world, but Chard recommended Lunar Pictures connect with Brouhaha Entertainment, based across Sydney and London.

Robison says Lunar is both humbled and delighted to work with the Brouhaha trio, whose current projects also include Netflix’s Boy Swallows Universe, Lee Tamahori’s The Convert, and Kate Winslet-starrer Lee.

“We went with them because they are the best what they do, and they wanted it the most,” Robison tells IF.

Switzerland is one of two Murray-Smith plays that Lunar Pictures is developing for screen; it also has the rights to Honour, a four character drama about infidelity. The play first premiered in Melbourne in 1995 and is among Murray-Smith’s most successful. Regularly updated to match modern pop culture references, it has been performed in more than 30 countries, including various times in the US with Meryl Streep and Linney in lead roles.

Chard will produce Honour alongside Lunar Pictures, with the project to also be shopped at EFM.

Robison says Murray-Smith, whose screenwriting work includes the AFI-nominated Georgia, is a “genius”.

“I adore everything she’s done,” he says. “Not only that, she’s just so wonderful to work with.”

Other upcoming Lunar Pictures projects include Martin’s second feature as director, The Boy in the Room Below, and Furmie’s Crying Ground, shooting in Montana with post-production to be completed in Australia.