A big screen biopic of 19th century surgeon Dr. James Barry is in the works at Maven Pictures where Deadline reveals that Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, The Lobster) is set to play the leading role. Barry famously pretended to be a man in order to follow her dream of practicing medicine.
Screenwriter Nick Yarborough will provide the screenplay, adapting author Rachel Holmes‘ nonfiction account, “Scanty Particulars: The Scandalous Life and Astonishing Secret of James Barry, Queen Victoria’s Most Eminent Military Doctor.” Published in 2003, the book is officially described as follows:
In the 1820s, Dr. James Barry burst into the English establishment from nowhere. He landed in Cape Town and became the leading military doctor in the South African colony, working tirelessly to improve the conditions of free and enslaved women, lepers, and the indigent. Barry’s further travels included postings to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and Canada. In his career, he collided with some of the leading figures of the age, and his exploits were regarded with fascination by Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
Barry was a flamboyant bon vivant: fashionably dressed, flirtatious, and always accompanied by a poodle. Wherever he went, he sparked gossip, made enemies, and inspired relentless curiosity about his identity–curiosity that erupted into international scandal upon Barry’s death, when his maidservant discovered the truth about this brilliant but mysterious icon of the Victorian age.
Weisz is also set to produce the Dr. James Barry biopic alongside Maven’s Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler. Crystal City Entertainment‘s Jenny Halper, Ari Pinchot and Jonathan Rubenstein will executive produce.