Ralph Fiennes to direct Nureyev biopic

Ralph Fiennes is set to direct a new film about the life of Rudolf Nureyev titled The White Crow. The actor, known for his roles in Schindler’s List, The English Patient and for his Shakespeare interpretations, will work alongside writer David Hare, who has two Academy Awards’s on his resume having won best screenplay for The Hours and The Reader.

Hare will base the screenplay on Julie Kavanagh’s 2007 biography of the Russian ballet superstar, who defected to the West while he was in Paris in 1961. It is not yet known which part of Nureyev’s life the film will follow.

‘This is a story of an uncompromising spirit, of homeland and ideologies that restrict, and of friendship,’ said Fiennes. ‘It is equally, a tale about the life and ballet culture he left behind in Russia.’

The project is being developed by BBC films and will star ballet dancer Oleg Ivenko in the role of Nureyev. Ivenko is a former principal dancer at Galiaskar Kamal Tatar Academic Theatre in Karzan, Russia. Ivenko will feature alongside Sergei Polunin (former principal dancer at Royal National Ballet) as well as actors Adèle Exarchopoulos and Chulpan Khamatova.

Prior to his defection, Nureyev was a principal dancer with Mariinsky Ballet (then known as Kirov Ballet). After he defected he worked with many of the world’s top ballet companies, finishing his career as director of Paris Opera Ballet.

The film will shoot in St Petersburg and Paris in summer 2017.