Russell Crowe In Talks to Swing the Razor Wide as Sweeney Todd

  Written by Maya Cantu

Russell Crowe ponders, if not plans on, taking the title role in the upcoming film version of Sweeney Todd.

The Daily Mail has reported that Crowe is "mulling over" the offer to play the homicidal barber, and Emma Thompson, Toni Collette and Imelda Staunton are supposedly all in the running for the role of his devoted, meat pie-baking accomplice Mrs. Lovett.

The actors have varying degrees of musical theatre experience. Crowe, while not in any way associated with musicals, fronts a rock band called Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts. Thompson performed in musicals during her days as a student at Cambridge University, and also starred in the London production of the Noel Gay musical Me and My Girl. Collette and Staunton are the musical theatre veterans of the bunch. Collette won raves for her role as Queenie in LaChiusa's The Wild Party in 2000, and also played a drag chanteuse in the film Connie and Carla. Staunton (recently Oscar-nominated for the film Vera Drake) played Adelaide in the acclaimed National Theatre production of Guys and Dolls, and was the Baker's Wife in the original London production of Into the Woods.

While Sam Mendes has not definitively confirmed that he will direct the film of Sondheim's macabre masterpiece, his Scamp Films will most likely produce it. John Logan (of The Gladiator and The Aviator fame) has come on board to adopt the screenplay from Hugh Wheeler's book.

Sweeney Todd, based on Christopher Bond's play, opened on Broadway on March 1st, 1979 at the Uris Theatre. The Hal Prince-directed production earned a slew of Tony Awards--nine including one for Best Musical. Sweeney Todd starred Len Cariou as Sweeney, Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett, Victor Garber as Anthony, Sarah Rice as Johanna, Edmund Lyndeck as Judge Turpin, Merle Louise as the Beggar Woman and Ken Jennings as Tobias. Larry Fuller choreographed, Eugene Lee created the iron-heavy set, Franne Lee was responsible for costume design and lighting design was by Ken Billington. Regular Sondheim collaborators Jonathan Tunick and Paul Gemignani respectively did the orchestrations and musical direction.

Sweeney Todd will be the third of Sondheim's works to make it to the big screen; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was filmed in 1966, and Hal Prince reprised his direction for an ill-regarded 1977 film of A Little Night Music that starred Cariou, Dame Diana Rigg and Elizabeth Taylor.
 

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