This is exciting news. Superhero casting level exciting. Why? Because in 18 years, Saoirse Ronan has managed to balance Oscar nominated period drama work with hand-to-hand combat and a fearless enjoyment of genre work (the last of which will be seen in the vampire film Byzantium and in the forthcoming The Host). Now, she’ll be taking on the role of an icon of Western history in Mary Queen of Scots. The potential here is massive.

Mary Stuart was crowned when she was nine months old, married the teenage King of France when she was 16, but he died just 3 days before her 18th birthday. She re-married in her early 20s, but her husband was murdered, and, of course, she got married for a third time shortly thereafter to the man many thought orchestrated her second husband’s death. James Hepburn was acquitted, but the court of public opinion didn’t sway his way, and their alliance soon drew suspicion on Mary – who was imprisoned, and then at 25 she was forced to give up her throne to her 1-year-old son. She fled to England looking for asylum from Queen Elizabeth, but Elizabeth took her into custody for 18 years and then had her killed. Then, Eric Idle sand “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Bringing his Elizabeth and Tudors experience to the project is screenwriter Michael Hirst. So the talent is brimming almost as seriously as the historical drama, but the intriguing connection is between the production company and the star. According to Deadline Hollywood, Working Title is prepping this for next year, but they were also the same company behind Joe Wright’s Atonement (for which Ronan earned her Oscar nomination) and the director’s forthcoming Anna Karenina. With nothing tying him down, wouldn’t it be the best possible optimistic speculation to hope that this project reunites Working Title, Wright and Ronan?

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