Hollywood: James Howson Stars as “Heathcliff”

James Howson

In 1939, undoubtedly the greatest year for films in movie history, MGM released “Wuthering Heights” starring Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon and David Niven. In 1970, it was remade with a former James Bond, Timothy Dalton, and Anna Calder Marshall. In 1992, it was remade yet again with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. Then, in 2009, it became a two-part mini-series (90 minutes each) with Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley.
In 2008, Natalie Portman was cast to play Cathy in another remake, but other commitments forced her out of the project. She was out, and Michael Fassbender was in as Heathcliff, with Abbie Cornish playing Kathy. By 2009, the director left, as did Fassbender and Cornish. When Peter Webber took on directing, he cast “Gossip Girl’s” Ed Westwick and Gemma Atherton.
In Emily Bronte’s original novel, Heathcliff was a gypsy. Director Arnold found James Howson through open auditions, and despite his lack of experience — just miniscule roles in “Trainspotting” and “Slum Dog Millionaire” — he became the first man of color to be cast as Heathcliff. The film cost $5 million and finished shooting in November 2010. It made the rounds of film festivals in Venice, Toronto, Zurich, Leeds, London and Sundance and was well-received. You can judge for yourself when it opens nationwide on Friday, Oct. 12.