- U.S. screenwriter-director Sofia Coppola will be able to shoot at least some of her Marie Antoinette biopic in Versailles. Kirsten Dunst will star as the Austrian-French queen.
- To date, the best-known big-screen retelling of Marie Antoinette’s tragic story remains Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s lavish 1938 release Marie Antoinette, starring Norma Shearer as the queen and Tyrone Power as her (alleged) lover, the Count Axel de Fersen.
Sofia Coppola to film Marie Antoinette at the Palace of Versailles
Academy Award winner Sofia Coppola (Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation, 2003) is about to begin filming scenes from Marie Antoinette inside the Palace of Versailles, located just outside of Paris. Versailles was the French royalty’s main residence from 1682 to the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789.
Screenwriter-director Coppola, who became only the second woman to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar (also for Lost in Translation), has loosely based her in-the-works biopic on Antonia Fraser’s book Marie Antoinette: The Journey.
American actress Kirsten Dunst, whose credits range from Interview with a Vampire and Little Women to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, has been cast as the Austrian-born queen of France. What the Austrians and the French think about that is, at the moment, unclear.
Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, I Heart Huckabees), who happens to be Sofia Coppola’s cousin, plays Marie Antoinette’s husband, King Louis XVI, while Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Rip Torn (Cross Creek, 1983) plays his father, Louis XV, a role Alain Delon had previously turned down.
Marie Antoinette cast
Update: Also in the cast of Sofia Coppola’s historical drama:
- Judy Davis as the Comtesse de Noailles.
- Rose Byrne as the Duchesse de Polignac.
- Jamie Dornan as the Count Axel Fersen.
- Asia Argento as Madame Du Barry.
- Molly Shannon as Aunt Victoire.
- Shirley Henderson as Aunt Sophie.
- Danny Huston as the Emperor Joseph II.
- Marianne Faithfull as the Empress Maria Theresa.
- Mary Nighy as the Princesse Lamballe.
- Sebastian Armesto as the Comte Louis de Provence.
- James Lance as Léonard.
- Tom Hardy as Raumont.
- And, for local color, French performers Aurore Clément as the Duchesse de Char and Guillaume Gallienne as Vergennes.
Opulent 1938 MGM version
In Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s sumptuous, W.S. Van Dyke-directed Marie Antoinette (1938), the Queen of MGM, Canadian-born Norma Shearer (Best Actress Academy Award winner for The Divorcee, 1930–31) played the doomed Queen of France.
British import Robert Morley was cast as Louis XVI, while 20th Century Fox import Tyrone Power, donning an unbecoming blond wig, brought to life the queen’s lover, the Swedish Count Axel de Fersen. (It’s unclear whether they were ever that intimate in real life.)
Also in the extensive name cast: John Barrymore as King Louis XV, Gladys George as Madame Du Barry, Anita Louise as the Princesse de Lamballe, Joseph Schildkraut as the Duke d’Orléans, Alma Kruger as the Empress Maria Theresa, George Meeker as Robespierre, and Cora Witherspoon as the Countess de Noailles.
Norma Shearer received her fifth and final Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marie Antoinette. Robert Morley, for his part, earned his first and last Oscar nod, in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Shearer lost to Bette Davis for Jezebel; Morley lost to Walter Brennan for Kentucky.
Marie Antoinette at the movies
Before Kirsten Dunst – and apart from Norma Shearer – previous big-screen portrayers of Marie Antoinette include the following:
- American Anita Louise (Madame Du Barry, 1934), as mentioned above, the Princesse de Lamballe in the 1938 Marie Antoinette.
- Frenchwoman Michèle Morgan (Shadow of the Guillotine / Marie-Antoinette reine de France, 1956).
- Dutch-born Nina Foch (Scaramouche, 1952).
- American Marie Wilson (The Story of Mankind, 1957).
- Spanish actress Susana Canales (John Paul Jones, 1959).
- Frenchwoman Charlotte de Turckheim (Jefferson in Paris, 1995).
- Englishwoman Joely Richardson (The Affair of the Necklace, 2001).
Swiss actress Liselotte Pulver (Lafayette, 1962) and German actress-singer Ute Lemper (L’Autrichienne, lit. “The Austrian,” 1990) are the closest to Austrians that we could find.
“Marie Antoinette Versailles Shoot: Sofia Coppola” notes
Cousin Jason Schwartzman
Shire, recently seen in a cameo opposite her son in I Heart Huckabees, is the sister of multiple Oscar winner/nominee Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, The Godfather: Part III, The Conversation), who happens to be Sofia Coppola’s father.
“Marie Antoinette Versailles Shoot” endnotes
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette movie cast info via the IMDb.
Image of Jamie Dornan and of the Kirsten Dunst black dress in Marie Antoinette: Columbia Pictures.
“Marie Antoinette Versailles Shoot: Coppola on Location” last updated in September 2021.