Monumental, Google, National Academy of Sciences Team on Biopic of Trailblazing Mathematician

Leo Barraclough
Variety

Alison Owen and Debra Hayward’s Monumental Pictures is set to make a movie biopic about the trailblazing Victorian mathematician and computer-science visionary Ada Lovelace. Google and The Science and Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences, are backing the project.

Owen’s credits include Oscar-nominated “Elizabeth,” “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Suffragette,” as well as the upcoming “Tulip Fever” for The Weinstein Company. Hayward produced the Golden Globe-winning “Les Misérables,” and recently produced “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” starring Renee Zellweger. Hayward was formerly at Working Title Films, where she served as executive producer on such films as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Atonement,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Pride & Prejudice.”

Shawn Slovo, who won a BAFTA for Chris Menges’ “A World Apart” and a Writers Guild of America award for Stephen Frears’ “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” will pen the screenplay of the Lovelace biopic. Slovo’s other credits include Phillip Noyce’s “Catch a Fire” and John Madden’s “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.”

“Daughter of notorious romantic poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace was a gifted mathematician. A contemporary of Charles Babbage, she foresaw the true possibilities of his designs and penned what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. She was envisaging the modern computer,” a statement said.

“Her personal life was more complicated. Ada’s controlling and overprotective mother, divorced Byron soon after marrying him and denied her daughter any creative outlet in the hope that she would not take after him. Her passion for gambling and parties was second only to her lust for scientific innovation and she died never seeing her ideas realized.

“It would take a familiar figure almost a century later to fully grasp her significance and apply her work in practice — Alan Turing [who was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”]. During World War II, Turing discovered her notes which were critical in shaping his thinking in constructing his Turing Machine, used to crack the German Enigma Code.”

Owen said: “With a scandalous nature to rival that of her father Byron and a scientific talent which aided the discovery of the modern computer, we feel privileged to be carrying the torch for such a trailblazer.”

Hayward added: “Much like Turing, Ada’s achievements were downplayed and denied. She was a woman out of her time — a computer pioneer with a daredevil streak. We can’t wait to bring this complex and brilliant women to the screen.”

Julie Ann Crommett, entertainment industry educator in chief at Google, said: “We’re thrilled to partner with The Science and Entertainment Exchange to support the development of this film. We know from our research that positive role models matter when it comes to encouraging women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in computer science and other technical fields, so it’s critical that we shine a light on stories like Ada’s to celebrate her achievements and inspire the next generation of female leaders in computer science.”

Monumental was set up in 2014. Last year ITV Studios Global took a minority stake in their television division, Monumental Television, which is producing TV series “Harlots” for Hulu and ITV, and “Will” for TNT.

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