EXCLUSIVE: Filming is due to get underway in late spring on Mr Burton, an upcoming biopic about the man who inspired screen legend, Richard Burton.
The film will tell the true story of the relationship between Welsh schoolmaster Philip Burton and a wild young schoolboy called Richard Jenkins. Richard dreamed of becoming an actor, but his ambitions were in danger of being derailed by a combination of family trouble, the pressure of war, and his own lack of discipline. Mr Burton recognised the raw talent in his pupil, and made it his mission to fight for him, becoming his tutor, strict taskmaster and eventually his adoptive father.
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BAFTA winner Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), fresh off his acclaimed performance in momentous UK TV series Mr Bates vs. The Post Office, will star in the title role, with Oscar nominee Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, The Crown) playing ‘Ma Smith’, Philip Burton’s landlady and close confidante, who acts as a watchful eye and guiding force over young Richard.
Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Slow Horses, Peaky Blinders) and Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk) join the cast as ‘Cis’ and ‘Elfed’, respectively, Richard’s elder sister and brother-in-law who looked after him after the death of his mother. Casting for the young Richard Burton is underway.
Independent Entertainment has boarded sales ahead of the European Film Market.
Marc Evans (Manhunt) is set to direct from the script written by Tom Bullough and Josh Hyams. Ed Talfan (Havoc) and Hannah Thomas (I Am Not A Witch) will produce for Severn Screen, with Josh Hyams (Shoshana) producing for Promise Pictures. The film is being financed by BBC Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales, in partnership with Creative Wales. Independent Entertainment is also executive-producing.
Shooting is set to start in the late spring, eying a 2025 release to coincide with the centenary of Richard Burton’s birth.
Jones is coming off hit UK series Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which helped reveal one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in recent UK history: the Post Office Horizon scandal, in which post office branch managers across the UK were wrongly accused of theft and false accounting with more than 700 being prosecuted. More than a million people signed a petition about the issue and the British government were moved to announce new laws and pardons.
Sarah Lebutsch, MD International Sales, Independent Entertainment, said: “Mr Burton is a touching story about the people without whom legends like Richard Burton wouldn’t exist. Following in the footsteps of films about inspirational teachers like Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, we couldn’t be more thrilled to bring it to the market.”
Ed Talfan, producer, Severn Screen, added: “We are thrilled to be working with director Marc Evans on this extraordinary project. The script is emotional and nuanced, and it will be a joy to see our characters brought to life by such a stellar cast.”
Jones is represented by Artist Rights Group (UK) and CAA (US). Manville is represented by Artist Rights Group. Edwards is represented by Conway van Gelder Grant. Barnard is represented by The Artists Partnership & Ziffren Brittenham.
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