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Hollywood’s hottest and rock royalty in Armagh today to plan Sir Patrick Moore biopic

Visiting Armagh today will be Anthony Hopkins, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and Olivia Colman who will all star, along with director Danny Boyle and Sir Brian May, who has agreed to write songs for the soundtrack based on the life of his late friend and Armagh Observatory director

Armagh movie stars

MIDDAY UPDATE: This is an April Fool…

Two times Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins will lead a delegation of Hollywood’s hottest and rock royalty on a visit to Armagh today (Monday) for a fact-finding mission as he prepares for his next role.

Having signed on with Working Title and Focus Features, the 86-year-old will take on the role of former Armagh Observatory director, Sir Patrick Moore.

Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed physicist Stephen Hawking in 2014’s ‘The Theory of Everything’, another Working Title production, has also signed up to star.

Redmayne will take on the role of the younger Moore, while Olivia Colman will play his fiancee, Lorna, a nurse, whom he tragically lost in 1943, during a bomb attack on London in the Second World War. Benedict Cumberbatch will take on the role of his brother.

Early indications are that a host of other big names, including Daniel Radcliffe, Gary Oldman, Kenneth Branagh, Carey Mulligan and Rachel Weisz, could also sign to the movie, which has provisionally been titled ‘The Cry at Night’. The name is a play on the astronomer’s long-running BBC show ‘The Sky at Night’, as it traces his upbringing, schooling, the tragedy in his personal life, his own wartime service and, of course, his time in Armagh.

Seen through his eyes during his twilight years in Sussex, Armagh will feature very heavily in the movie; indeed, it is Moore who was responsible for the planning and building of the Planetarium and was its first director when opened in 1968.

Now, ahead of further development, the lead stars of the forthcoming film will be in Armagh today for a walkabout, to ‘follow in his footsteps’, as it were.

Once here, Hopkins, Redmayne, Colman and co, will visit the Observatory and Planetarium, but they intend too, to explore the Cathedrals, given that the current Archbishop of the Church of Ireland Cathedral is a director of the Observatory and Planetarium.

They will also enjoy the opportunity of meeting folk as they move about Armagh to discuss their memories of a great man who did so much for this city in an all-too-brief time.

At the helm of the new movie will be directorial gold in the form of Danny Boyle, the man who brought us Trainspotting, Steve Jobs and the multi-Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

Close friend of Sir Patrick Moore and legendary Queen guitarist Sir Brian May will write a number of original tracks for the soundtrack and will be joined by Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters.

Having been a guest on The Sky at Night numerous times, May – a Fellow who holds a doctorate in astronomy – will also rework pieces from his own space-themed album ‘Starfleet Project’, especially for this production.

All of the confirmed main stars, director and May, as well as lead crew, will be in Armagh today as part of preparatory works ahead of final scripting later this year.

No actual filming will be taking place, but potential locations will be scoped, with Boyle keen to use as much of the local landscape as possible, returning en masse at a later date.

Cinematography will be led by Armagh’s own Seamus McGarvey, who has worked on box office hits such as Atonement, World Trade Center, Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hours.

Early suggestions are that filming could get underway in late autumn.

That, of course, will depend on a very tight working schedule and closely-choreographed timeframe for all parties and ensuring there is no overlap in other working commitments.

Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, production will have wrapped before the end of 2025.

In a press statement issued ahead of the visit to Armagh today (Monday), April 1, in response to details of the visit being leaked, a spokesperson for Working Title confirmed the work in progress, saying: “We have always been very keen to bring to the screen those lesser known stories behind the people whom we have known and loved, what shaped them and made them who they are.

“Sir Patrick would have celebrated his 100th birthday on March 4th this year.

“It is therefore fitting that we look at recording and documenting the huge impact this giant of a man made in terms of research and writing, the joy he brought as a broadcaster and the knowledge which he gave us and legacy he left.

“Sir Anthony is the ideal candidate to portray him. Such a versatile actor, he is now 86 years of age and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Reaching through a long and illustrious career, he has already played some of the world’s best-known figures – everyone from Richard Nixon to Alfred Hitchcock – adapting to every nuance, every mannerism of his subject.

“Evidently, he – in our opinion – is the best man for the job!

“And the rest of the cast and crew – with more announcements to come – has got everybody buzzing! We are hoping to get a real flavour for Sir Patrick’s time in Armagh and cannot wait to visit the city of which he was so proud and a city which, in turn, was so proud of him.”

Listening to the pre-film soundbites – and with a brilliant script to work from – The Cry at Night will certainly put Armagh on the map on the Hollywood stage. For in the case of Sir Patrick Moore, it will surely be out of this world!!

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