EXCLUSIVE: After meeting with and auditioning a number actors, Searchlight drama Empire of Light directed by Sam Mendes has set Top Boy breakout Micheal Ward to join Olivia Colman. The film will mark Mendes first since his Oscar-winning World War I drama 1917 and he also penned the script and marks his first solo script. The film will be produced by Mendes and Pippa Harris’ Neal Street Productions. Production is expected to star in fall of 2022.
While plot details are under wraps, the film is described as love story, set in and around a beautiful old cinema, on the South Coast of England in the 1980s. Mendes will also reunite with his 1917 cinematographer Roger Deakins.
Mendes has been taking his time in finding Colman’s co-star and in recent weeks Ward began positioning himself as a choice for the role.
Winner of the 2020 EE BAFTA Rising Star Award, Ward recently starred in the highly anticipated Netflix series Top Boy. In the series, Ward plays one of the lead roles, Jamie, a young, hungry and ruthless gang leader who has taken over. The resurgence of Top Boy hit the headlines after it was announced Drake would executive produce the series on Netflix. He can most recently be seen in Lovers Rock which is the second episode of Steve McQueen’s anthology series, Small Axe, which premiered to rave reviews in November of 2020. Ward also has a supporting role in the upcoming Netflix film Beauty. The film is written by Lena Waithe and stars Giancarlo Esposito and Sharon Stone. A ‘Screen International Star of Tomorrow 2020’, He is currently shooting the next season of Top Boy for Netflix.