Sky today announces that BAFTA-winning director Joe Wright (Darkest Hour, Atonement, Cyrano) is set to direct M. Son of the Century, the new Sky Original series based on the Premio Strega-winning and international bestselling book by Antonio Scurati, which chronicles the birth of fascism in Italy and the Duce Benito Mussolini’s rise to power.
Wright will direct all eight episodes of the series and begins filming at Cinecittà Studios over the next few weeks.
Also announced today at the Rome Film Festival, Luca Marinelli will lead the cast as Benito Mussolini. Nominated five times for the David di Donatello awards – including the nomination that won him the award for They Call Me Jeeg, a film that also saw him win the Nastro d’Argento Award – Marinelli is one of the most respected actors in Italy. He is also the winner of the Coppa Volpi for best actor at the Venice Film Festival for Martin Eden and the prestigious Shooting Stars Award at the Berlin Festival.
M. Son of the Century is produced by Sky Studios and Lorenzo Mieli for The Apartment Pictures, a Fremantle company, in collaboration with Pathé.
The eight-part series will cover the period from the founding of Fasci Italiani in 1919 through to Mussolini’s infamous speech in parliament following the murder of socialist MP Giacomo Matteotti in 1925. The series will also provide viewers with an insight into Mussolini and his personal relationships, including with his wife Rachele, his lover Margherita Sarfatti, and with other iconic figures from the time. Like the novel, the series will tell the history of a country that surrendered to dictatorship and the story of a man who was able to rise from his ashes time and again.
Written by Stefano Bises (Gomorrah, The New Pope, ZeroZeroZero, Speravo de morì prima) and Davide Serino (1992, 1993, Il Re, Esterno Notte), the series will tell the events with historical accuracy, with every event, character, dialogue and speech documented or witnessed by multiple sources.
Nils Hartmann, EVP Sky Studios Italia and Deutschland, said: ‘’For a great project like ‘M.’, and for such a challenging role as Mussolini, we could only think of an extraordinary and eclectic talent like Luca Marinelli. There are not many actors like him in Italy or in the world, and we have been courting him for a long time and are now delighted to have him in this new Sky Studios production, which is becoming more and more unique. With the direction of a master like Joe Wright and with the guidance of Scurati’s novel, adapted here by Stefano Bises and Davide Serino, we are ready to launch a project that marks a further step forward in our creative and productive journey’’
Lorenzo Mieli, CEO for The Apartment Pictures, a Fremantle Company, said: “I am hugely happy about the artistic team we have in M: Joe Wright is perfect because I love the way he’s dealt with the complexity of the human soul and the ethical dilemmas of power in the past and also I love the way he can change genres. Luca Marinelli is definitely one of the greatest actors of his generation and only a great actor like him can play a character as complex as that of Mussolini”.
M. Son of the Century will be shown exclusively on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW in all of Sky’s markets in Europe. Fremantle handle international distribution of the series.
Published in Italy by Bompiani in 2018, the Antonio Scurati novel M. Son of the Century has been translated in 46 countries and has sold more than 600,000 copies. It was published by Harper Collins in the United States. It is the first book in a trilogy that Scurati dedicated to fascism and Benito Mussolini: the second book was entitled M. L’UOMO DELLA PROVVIDENZA, which was followed a few weeks ago by the third novel in the bestselling series, M. GLI ULTIMI GIORNI DELL’EUROPA, focused on the crucial period between 1938 and 1940.