Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Meryl Streep to play Emmeline Pankhurst

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) is set to play iconic political activist Emmeline Pankhurst in Ruby Films drama Suffragette, which began shooting in the UK this week.

Director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) and Iron Lady (2011) writer Abi Morgan are behind the film, which will star Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) as Maude, a young feminist in the early days of the suffragette movement who becomes radicalised and turns to violence as a route to change.

Streep will be Emmeline Pankhurst, the activist and leader of the movement striving to get the vote. She became famous for her dedication to the cause, her militant tactics and the shocking treatment she received in prison. Streep will have a small but important role in the film, which will see her character deliver a 'tour de force' speech on women's rights during a political rally.

Born in Manchester in 1858, Pankhurst founded a number of political groups including the Women's Franchise League and the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).

She and her followers became infamous for resorting to militant tactics as a means of protest against gender inequality. Pankhurst and other WSPU members were sentenced to repeated stints in prison, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions.

In 1999 Time magazine named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating: "She shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back."

Streep famously played another iconic British figure Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady – a role for which she received a Best Actress Academy Award.

With cameras already rolling, the film also stars feature Helena Bonham Carter (The Kings Speech), Romola Garai (Amazing Grace), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges), Anne-Marie Duff (The Last Station) and Samuel West (Hyde Park On Hudson).

Streep, meanwhile, will be back on our screens in Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman, dystopian drama The Giver and Stephen Sondheim adaptation Into The Woods, which arrives here on 9 January next year.

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