EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated Persepolis director Marjane Satrapi is set to helm Radioactive, a Working Title production based on the 2010 graphic novel by Lauren Redniss, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout. Studiocanal is fully financing the picture, which is being adapted by hot scribe Jack Thorne. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster are producing.
Producers are out to cast the three major roles of the Curies and Paul Langevin, once a doctoral student of Pierre and later a lover of Marie. A fall shoot is planned.
Based on the 2011 National Book Award finalist (the first nonfiction graphic narrative to have the distinction), the live-action, image-driven film tells the story of Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and her extraordinary scientific discoveries — through the prism of her marriage to husband Pierre — and the seismic and transformative effects their discovery of radium had on the 20th century.
Born in Poland in 1867, Curie (née Skłodowska) moved to France in 1891 and married Pierre in 1895. They worked together to develop the theory of radioactivity and techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes and discovered the elements polonium and radium. The pair were at the dawn of a new scientific and technological era that ushered in the nuclear age.
“Marie Curie was one of the great female scientists of the 20th century,” Bevan said. “Between the originality of Laura Redniss’ book, the freshness of Jack Thorne’s script and the visual imagination of Marjane Satrapi’s direction, I think we have the opportunity of making a very original movie about her life’s work and its consequences.”
For Satrapi, Curie’s “life, love, passion, science and death is a singular story. Beyond the fact of being a two-time Nobel Prize winner, she herself is an epic character. This film is not just a biopic about this exceptional woman. It tells the story of radioactivity from its discovery until today, the humanist approach of the Curie couple with their discovery, the cynicism of some about its use and the effect it has had on our world until today.
“Madame Curie is not a character of the past,” he added. “She does not belong to the Victorian period, as can be imagined. She is part of a moment in history where everything changes, where everything is invented, and she is one of the biggest factors in this change towards the modernity that we know in our current society. Even today Marie Curie belongs to the future. The combination of epochs, the encounter between pure science and spirit gives us the possibility of making a highly innovative, unconventional film that we have not yet seen. For a director, this project is an immense opportunity, almost a benediction.”
Studiocanal’s Ron Halpern said: “This is a really interesting European true story about an incredible woman and what she had to fight against. With great European talent like Marjane Satrapi and Jack Thorne and Working Title and Paul Webster, it’s exactly the type of film Studiocanal would like to be making.”
Satrapi’s Persepolis was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2008. It was a critical and commecrial success, sharing a Special Jury Prize in Cannes and winning Best Debut Feature at the Césars. Her other credits include Chicken with Plums and The Voices. She’s repped by UTA.
The busy Thorne has Julia Roberts drama Wonder out in April. He’s also adapting the BBC’s His Dark Materials mini, doing a re-write on Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller Sovereign, and Tom Harper is helming his spec The Aeronauts. He also penned smash stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is enjoying a sold-out West End run. WME reps Thorne.