Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, known for films like Iris, Moulin Rouge! and Harry Potter series, has boarded the film adaptation of best-selling novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
BAFTA winner Hettie Macdonald, who helmed acclaimed hit series Normal People with Lenny Abrahamson, will direct the movie based on the book by Rachel Joyce.
According to Deadline, Broadbent will play the eponymous Harold, an ordinary man who has passed through life, living on the side lines, until he goes to post a letter one day… and just keeps walking.
The character embarks on a 450-mile walk across the UK in the simple belief that his journey will save the life of his old friend Queenie who is dying in a hospice. Step by step, a spark is ignited in Harold’s hibernating soul as he rediscovers the majesty of the world, reflects on his mistakes, and finally gains the strength to face the unspoken grief that has driven him and his wife, Maureen, apart.
The walk becomes a pilgrimage that inspires people far and wide but, more importantly, transforms Harold into a man who embraces the value of friendship, humility, self-forgiveness, and kindness.
BAFTA winner Kevin Loader of The Death of Stalin will produce with Juliet Dowling and Marilyn Milgrom. Macdonald said the story is “made for cinema”.
“I find Harold’s journey across England and his belief that he can make a difference extraordinarily moving and inspiring. I am enormously excited to be working with Jim Broadbent who I know will use his warmth, range and sensitivity to create an onscreen Harold who will lodge deep in the hearts of everyone who sees it,” the director.
This story is a deeply personal one that has been with the author for many years, and has resonated with readers, both young and old, Joyce added.
“Re-imagining it with Hettie has lifted it to a new level and I know she will make a film that will be beautiful, universal and truthful. It was a ‘small’ book that took the world by storm. We want the film to do the same,” she said.
The makers are hoping to shoot the film later this year on location across the UK.