How do you want your teenaged Mary Shelley? Is she blonde, swooningly and forbiddingly in love with the “dangerously charismatic poet” (The Hollywood Reporter’s words) Percy Shelley? Or is she redheaded, married, and grappling with an alter ego offering her fame, in the form of her novel Frankenstein, but at a devastating cost?
You don’t have to choose, because in typical Hollywood fashion, where there’s one Mary Shelley biopic, there’s two Mary Shelley biopics.
Even just from the crib notes, you can tell the clear differences between the projects. Fanning’s drama, A Storm in the Stars, sounds more like a typical period piece romance. The plot focuses on 17-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft’s first love, in the form of the older Percy Bysshe Shelley.
But lest you think it’s solely focused on the two writers’ affair, the movie will also examine Mary’s difficulties feeling out of step (read: too intelligent and independent) for her time—which makes Wadja director Haifa Al-Mansour the perfect choice to helm it.
Then there’s Mary Shelley’s Monster, described thusly by producer Rose Ganguzza (who also produced last year’s Daniel-Radcliffe-as-Allen-Ginsberg drama Kill Your Darlings):
Our film is not a period drama. It is a story of youth that transcends time, a gothic romance, a love triangle that involves a dark passenger, and we are tremendously excited to have such an exciting cast onboard this wonderful project.
In this case, Game of Thrones’ Turner is 18-to-21-year-old Mary Shelley, who over the course of the film will become a wife and author, anonymously publishing Frankenstein. This Mary is sexier, more assured, more contemporary—and plagued much like Dr. Frankenstein by her creation’s success.
War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine will play Percy Shelley, while American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga has signed on as Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont (doesn’t that already sound like a period piece villain name?), who gets tangled up in almost as scandalous an affair of her own. Penny Dreadful’s Coky Giedroyc is directing.
No word yet on which film will attempt to nab the first release date, but we’re interested to see how much—or how little—each addresses the darkness and ingenuity in Mary that led her to actually conceive of Frankenstein’s monster itself.
Photos: HBO; Walt Disney Studios