Mulligan Cast as Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady' Remake

For the longest time Keira Knightley was attached to star as Eliza Doolittle in the remake My Fair Lady. Yet, Knightley left the project and the rumors she would be directed by her Pride and Prejudice and Atonement helmer Joe Wright were soon sorted out. However, what this meant was the film was without a star or a director. Since that time John Madden (Shakespeare In Love) has signed on to direct a script from Emma Thompson as she adapts George Bernard Shaw's play, which was previously adapted for the screen in 1964 and won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Actor (Rex Harrison) and Director (George Cukor).

As short a time ago as February 23, 2010, Carey Mulligan dismissed rumors she would be taking on the role once held by Audrey Hepburn saying, "It would be lovely, but no." However, today the BBC is reporting Emma Thompson has confirmed the earlier rumor saying Mulligan will indeed play Doolittle and that she would love for Hugh Grant to play Henry Higgins, the role that won Harrison the Oscar years after he performed the role on stage opposite Julie Andrews.

"I think Carey is set to play it, yes," Thompson said before adding, "But we still don't know about [Henry] Higgins. I love Hugh so I'd love him to do it, he might want to, he might not want to, so we don't know yet. But hopefully we'll make it later this year."

Of course, Thompson's "I think Carey is set to play it" statement doesn't sound proof positive, but I have to assume -- or at least I am assuming -- she is speaking with more confirmation than just previously debunked rumors.

My Fair Lady tells the story of street-urchin-turned-proper-lady Eliza Doolittle as linguist Henry Higgins draws Eliza into a social experiment that works almost too well.

Mulligan recently won the BAFTA award for her performance in An Education and was nominated for an Oscar for the same role. She will next be seen in The Greatest along with Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon on April 2 and will follow that with Wall Strett: Money Never Sleeps for Oliver Stone.

  • Carson Dyle

    Guh. I wouldn't particularly mind if this were just another rendition of Pygmalion, but this is so utterly redundant. The original is probably the finest film musical every made.

  • oldskool138

    "As short a time ago as February 23, 2010, Carey Mulligan dismissed rumors she would be taking on the role once held by Audrey Hepburn saying, 'It would be lovely, but no.'"

    Shouldn't she have said "It would be loverly, but no" so as to keep with the My Fair Lady thing?

    It's great to see Sally Sparrow from Doctor Who doing well.

  • ha

    bad idea!!!!This movie will bomb at the box office

    • maja

      I could be wrong, but this sounds more like a low budget period peice like Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. These kind of movies always do reasonably well internationally, especially in the UK which this seems to be targeted at with an all British cast.

  • Leandro Dubost

    I think My Fair Lady is one of these classics that's impossible to top, you know?

    Sorry Carey, you're cute, but Audrey Hepburn is Audrey Hepburn. She may not have been the greatest actress ever, but she's one of a kind. If you ask me, not even Meryl Streep could handle a role of Audrey better than her! She nailed every single one of them, brought to them her own only style.

    Also, Hugh Grant? Instead of Rex Harrison?! lol
    They can do better, there are tons of great british actors that could do a Mr. Higgins as brillant as Harrison's!

  • JM

    Shoot me in the head if you will, but I have never been that impressed with "My Fair Lady." I watched it when I was young, and it bored me. I watched it when I was a little older, deciding it deserved another chance. It still bored me. "The Sound of Music" and "Fiddler on the Roof" are far better, when it comes to musicals.

    As such, I'm not that upset that they're remaking it. I'm not really sure if I want to see it, because part of my problem with the movie was that I thought the songs were pretty flat. But I'll watch its progress with mild interest and hope that something good comes out of it.

    • Rochelle

      I once thought that exact same thing, but I just didn't get the film until I was in my 20s. It's a complex and subtle film to grasp, there is no way you would have ever understood it as a youth. I would suggest seeing it again.

      The songs are also more meaningful and beautiful when you understand what the film is actually about.

  • humptydumpty

    Hell has frozen over. Why not remake Star Wars or Citizen Kane whilst they're at it?!!

  • Irf

    It's a better choice than Keira Knightley seeing she cannot act for toffee and is unable to play any role that is not a posh London girl. Carey Mulligan seems a fine choice.

  • Liathach

    My Fair Lady was not a perfect film because a completely implausible Hollywood ending was imposed on the original story. In Bernard Shaw's play 'Pygmalion', on which the musical was based, Eliza doesn't marry Higgins. Shaw wrote an extensive post-script to his play which describes the rest of Eliza's life in detail. I hope Emma Thompson has stuck to the original story. It's not a rom-com, it's a play about class. And anyway, Rex Harrison was far too old for the part, and he couldn't sing.

    • Rochelle

      My Fair Lady never implied that Higgins and Eliza were married...actually the film is an identical adaptation of the musical which was an identical adaptation of the play. Both end on very ambiguous notes, both pretty much have the same exactly story, even most of the dialogue from Pygmalion is in My Fair Lady

      Shaw actually compromised his own story by adding a "hollywood" ending where Eliza marries Freddy instead in his "afterward." If you want to gripe about anyone, gripe about him.

      Musicals are not about singing, Rex harrison was the original stage fact the musical was written with him in mind as Higgins. Musicals are about revealing bits of the psychology, moods, reactions of the characters in the story.

      Rex Harrison's songs were written with the idea that he wasn't going to sing, Higgins is an emotionless character and it would have been absurd to make an emotionless character break out in song. Singing is so soulful, it's something you do with feeling. Higgins isn't a character that is able to show his feelings. Notice how his "love song" is accustomed to her face? he never reveals any sort of love.

      The idea of a heroic baritone or tenor in the role makes me want to both vomit and laugh. Go listen to Harrison's original version from the original stage musical. it's actually quite good. He could sing, although he didn't have the best voice. His voice was gruff, hoarse, but he could sing in tune if he practiced and worked hard. He actually did his rednition live for the film and he did it in one take. The idea of someone else topping Harrison's performance is laughable and stupid.

  • daphne

    If you're gonna go with a British Hugh, try Hugh Laurie. He'd be much less of an insult to Rex Harrison and the role.

    • angel

      I totally, 100% agree with you that Hugh Laurie would be a better choice for Rex Harrison's role. Wrong Hugh, Emma! I see Hugh Grant as more bumbling and oddball. Hugh Laurie could very effectively play the snooty Higgins.

      • daphne

        and the funny thing is that she's also friends with Hugh Laurie, so why wouldn't she see that? I wonder if maybe he wasn't even considered because it's too much of a commitment to find time for in between shooting House episodes?

    • Rochelle

      Why is Hugh Laurie the new Johnny Depp of suggestions? Christ people, when will you get it. Hugh Laurie can play one role, very well, but he can still only play one role.

      And that role is not Henry Higgins.

      Higgins is a complex character, he's not just "snooty"

  • Dan

    Leave the classics alone Hollywierd. This doesn't need to be redone. There is no way it will better th original. So what's the point even ? Anyway, who's running things in the first place ? History shows you they aren't as good as the original.
    What's funny is just the other day I saw The Karate Kid on cable. They are still playing that in regular cable rotation and they went and remade it with Will Smith's kid and Jackie Chan ? Again, they are still playing the original all the time. It's still relevant. Why even easte the time when the original is still being played ?

    • Rochelle

      But it's one thing to remake The karate Kid and another to remake a film that was pretty flawless and masterfully done in the first place...

      The Karate Kid was at least more of an update, so there was a decent reason to remake it...My Fair Lady does not need a remake. How long has it been since the play was popular? It hasn't been hugely popular since the 50s....and because it was so popular they made a film about it. It's been done and people moved on, we don't need to revisit My Fair Lady ever again, or even Pygmalion for that matter.

      Remakes disgust me because they take no originality to create, they take no REAL creativity to make.

  • thomas sundby

    Keira Knightley would be splendid singing and acting in the role of Eliza Doolittle - making something new fresh and better to the old role. See little luck to try with any other. Daniel Day Lewis is the only actor to make this remake great as well. Geoffrey Hudges could be
    a beliveable father. Good luck - and don`t try to save money on the cast - or it shure
    will flop.

  • thomas sundby

    Can`t see how Cary Mulligan can act as the Hungarien Princess. Keira Knightley can - and
    she can sing with a believable voice! The singing voices need not perfect for any of the
    roles in My Fair Lady - the acting voices will be the more importent - also when singing.
    That is what made Rex Harrison great in the his role.

  • thomas sundby

    Doe`s Henry Higgins give writing lessons to the Norvegians who speaks Norvegian?

  • thomas sundby

    Is Emma Thompson a little dull minded - Hugh Grant - no,no,no!

    • Rochelle

      She's a little sappy minded, she's going to turn the film into an overly sappy mess. That and she's going to turn it into something preachy, she thinks the film is about sexual slavery...

      *slaps forehead.

      I just hope this film never gets made.

      Hugh Grant? Wow how original, like you've never used him before in any of your films. What is Emma Thompson turning into Tim Burton? She used to be a credible person in Hollywood, a bit arrogant, but at least credible, now she's become a joke to me.

  • thomas sundby

    And how about Hugh Laurie? Well - try to compare him with Rex Harrison - and I`m shure you`ll understand why my first choice is Daniel Day-Lewis. A remake must have - will have -a chance to outdo the 1960 movie - if only Madden get the right tools and actors!

  • Thomas Sundby

    The mfl remake should not be cosie - if the " spelling" is right. A good director knows this all too well - and should not be directed by anyone but himself who ever that may be!
    If the dialogs are written dull and "poorly" - it is easy to understand why Keira Knightly, Daniel Day-Lewis, Wright, Madden,Doyle... all "wisely" have dropped out. I am shure
    Time Rice would make something - quite out of the ordinary - with the "libretto".
    Feel that Emma Thompson might be the hidden problem with this remake.

  • Mark

    Hepburn was far too old to play Eliza and the original film was crap.

    • Daphne

      ......And Harrison was far too old to play Higgins... things even out.

    • Rochelle

      How is 33 old? give me a break, she even looked 10 years younger anyway. I actually thought she was in her mid 20s until I looked it up.

      Oh yea...Mulligan is 25, but the time they get this film made-I give it two years in the last considering that a script isn't written, a director hasn't been found, actors haven't even been confirmed, and a deal has not been made with the studios-she will be around Hepburn's age...

      And it's Sally Sparrow from Doctor Who for god's sake!

  • Thomas Sundby

    Quite agree. Have not thought of it. Here we have two obviously good reasons for a remake.
    Keira Knightley is my choice for E.D. for many reasons. Daniel Day- Lewis is my choice for H.H. - he could act younger than he is - maybe an acting challenge he ought to reconsider. Eliza Doolittle - as I see her at the best - is playful - but it will be misleading to think that she is anyway childish. She is just very bright and joyful. No wonder why H.H. falls in love.
    Please I don`t see how Carey Mulligan could change into an "Hungarien Princesss." Keira Knightley will do that far better - like it or not. It takes class - to be believable. K.K. has tons of it - and inner beauty too. Her singing is just playful enough to be perfect. Get the script right - Tim Rice is the man for it - and who would ask for anything more - the music and the widely interesting story will do the rest for a new generation.

  • Hans Thomas Sundby

    Here is a question that i do not know where else to put. Just watched the movie -The Apartment - and heard in the movie many times the teamstart of the song " Love Never Dies ". The team is very prominent and can have been interpolated by Sir Andrew Loyd Webber - Would like to get an answer on this. It was done in earlier days by - for instance Irving Berlin.
    Probably today it is not so common? The musicwriter in the movie - Adolf Deutsch. Possibly
    German? The move made 1960.

  • Hans Thomas Sundby

    George Cukor was the filmdirector to MFL movie. He probably made the script too. No one
    is accredited for the script alone as far as I know - . This is very likely common - and here we are - four years on - and still hoping for the director - listening to a scriptwriter - hoping for a remake of MFL. A musical that easily can be made a movie of every 50 years - with or without a new script.

  • hans thomas sundby

    I must quickly correct myself. It was Alan Lerner who made the lyrics and also made the
    script to the musical. Brilliant as it is!

  • hans thomas sundby

    Dear Eliza! You must learn to pronounce the words properly. You do not say a team song -
    you say a theme song. The difference between a songwriter and a song composer is entirely another matter!

  • http://MYFAIRLADY Sal

    The most rediculous thing I have ever heard of is a remake of one of the greatest films ever made. My Fair Lady. Who in heavens name can replace Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle and Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins. The remake of this film will go absolutely nowhere. The original was a Masterpiece. As great as an actor Daniel Day Lewis is he is no Henry Higgins and for him to take this part would be the mistake of his acting career. Again no one can replace Audrey Hepburn. She will always be one of a kind. There is the DVD of My Fair Lady. Even though there is the DVD just bring back the original to the theatres again. I gaurantee people will flock to see it. I know I will. Can there be a remake of Gone With The Wind. There cannot be another Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh waiting in the wings. Gone With The Wind has been brought back to the theatres many times. The same can be done with My Fair Lady.

  • Hans thomas sundby

    Rex Harrison was a perfect Henry Higgins - and deserved an Oscar for that role. Audrey Hepburn was not as perfect as Eliza Doolithle - or possibly the rest of the cast. The film was made as a filmed stage musical. Alright for some... a little outdated nowadays - when things are often preferred with more realism.

    Daniel Day-Lewis would be a different H.H. - for sure - but not anyway a bad copy for that reason. Together with Keira Knightley we can expect true sparks!
    If anyone need to compare - quite premature in this case - it will often end up with a preference to the beloved movie already there - thanks again mostly to Rex Harrison...
    and the music.

    A remake should be remade for a whole new generation - as important as the musical is to implement even more realism to this wonderful story. Fifty - hundred years ago -
    who cares?

  • H.T.S

    Eliza Doolittle may well be more than thirty-one in mfl - anyway, she may act as if more...

    Perfect teeth must be accepted in the world of illusions and closeups. - Again Keira Knightley is the best choice- by far - that I know of.- and again, easy to see , Cary Mulligan will have problems... H.H. obviously does not want a child to marry!!