What do Tony Blair, Brian Clough, Kenneth Williams and David Frost all have in common? Answer: they’ve all been played on screen by actor Michael Sheen. We will soon be able to add George Mallory to that list because the Welsh wizard is set to scale new heights as the intrepid mountaineer in an upcoming biopic, In High Places.
It will set out to tell this fascinating life story, which ended in tragedy in 1924 during an ill-fated expedition to Mount Everest.
Since making the transition from stage to screen some fifteen years ago, biopics have become somewhat of a speciality for Sheen. Although he has branched out by appearing in flicks such as Twilight: New Moon and Woody Allen‘s Midnight in Paris, it is still his uncanny knack for impersonation for which he is renowned. A portrayal of the redoubtable Mallory will no doubt provide a different challenge, but Sheen is surely talented enough to prove it is not insurmountable.
The film is being written by James McEachen, who said: “I have been fascinated by George Mallory for as long as I can remember. That led directly to my own Himalayan climb in the 90s, including leading an expedition to 27,766 foot Makulu in 1992.” And we thought it was the actors who were supposed to get immersed in the parts!
Alongside Sheen will be Kelly Macdonald, who takes on the role of Mallory’s wife Ruth, with Sherlock and soon-to-be Spectre star Andrew Scott playing Noel Odell, a friend and climbing buddy. Yet it was Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine, and not the latter, who was to make that final trek with Mallory. The pair were last seen alive when they were around 800 feet from the summit of ‘the roof of the world’. Famously, Mallory’s body was only discovered as recently as 1999.
Filming will begin later this year, with locations as diverse as London, Cologne, South Tyrol and India all being used.