Dame Maggie Smith to Star in Film Adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s “A German Life”
Dame Maggie Smith will be starring in screenwriter-playwright Christopher Hampton’s film adaptation of his one-woman play A German Life. She played the role to critical acclaim at the Bridge Theatre in the West End, winning a record sixth Evening Standard Theatre Award for her performance.
Speaking to Variety, Hampton shared that the coronavirus pandemic left the dame, who portrayed Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film series, unwilling to return to the stage even though the play was scheduled to be transferred to Broadway. Thus, he turned to the big screen instead:
What with COVID, Maggie decided that she didn’t really want to go back and do it again on stage [sic], which was a great shame because it meant that an enormous number of people hadn’t seen it and her great performance.
A German Life centers around Brunhilde Pomsel, a German secretary at the height of the Nazi regime. She began her career working for a Jewish insurance broker before working her way up to personal secretary for the mastermind of the Nazi propaganda machine, Joseph Goebbels himself. The play is drawn from the first-hand testimony that Pomsel gave to a group of Austrian filmmakers just before her death. Having previously received an Oscar nomination for another haunting war film, Atonement, Christopher Hampton will pen the screenplay. Jonathan Kent, who directed the play, will be making his feature film debut as its director.
Although Hampton also wrote the original play’s script, writing its film version presented him with unique challenges.
What I’ve been doing is writing it as a screenplay about this woman in her retirement home in 2013 talking about her life. The film script was more difficult to write than the stage play. Sometimes she looks out the window and sees characters, but otherwise, it’s all just her through the course of the day talking about her memories.
Bringing A German Life to movie theaters will give countless fans around the world a rare opportunity to watch Dame Maggie Smith’s award-winning performance. We can’t wait to view the final product!