David Oyelowo has teamed up with the brains behind the Oscar-winning Moonlight story for a new Disney mash-up of classic tales Othello and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, who wrote In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, earned a story credit for Moonlight and is developing the musical Cyrano The Moor as a vehicle for the Selma star.
McCraney’s idea is to merge Edmond Rostand and William Shakespeare’s stories about love, appearance and jealousy.
It’s an ambitious move for Disney bosses, who have found huge recent successes with live action musicals inspired by their classic animated tales, like this year’s (17) monster success Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book.
However, the mash-up will prove challenging because the two plays are very different. Cyrano de Bergerac, written in 1897, is a comedy about a man with an enormous nose who enlists a friend to help him win over the girl of his dreams, who also happens to be his cousin. Shakespeare’s famous tragedy centres on a powerful Moorish general, who is duped into killing his own wife in the mistaken belief that she is cheating on him.
A French language film version of Cyrano de Bergerac was released in 1990 with celebrated Green Card star Gerard Depardieu as the titular character. Steve Martin starred in an Americanised version of the story, Roxanne, in 1987.
The last movie version of Othello, written and directed by Oliver Parker and released in 1995, starred Laurence Fishburne in the title role, Irene Jacob as his doomed wife Desdemona, and Kenneth Branagh as Iago, the ensign who convinced Othello his wife was unfaithful.
Oyelowo is already well-versed in the Shakespeare classic, having played Othello off-Broadway in New York earlier this year to huge critical acclaim. Daniel Craig played Iago.
The Brit will co-produce Cyrano the Moor with his wife Jessica.