Benedict Cumberbatch—the Oscar-nominated star of Power of the Dog, The Imitation Game, and Patrick Melrose, as well as all of those epilepsy-inducing Marvel movies—has signed on to play the lead (not the crow) in an upcoming film adaptation of Max Porter’s 2015 novel, Grief is the Thing With Feathers.
Porter’s debut, which won the Dylan Thomas Prize and was named a Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Novel of the Twenty-first Century’ back in 2016, is a hybrid work of prose and poetry about a crow who visits a grieving family of a Ted Hughes scholar and his two young boys.
As reported by Deadline earlier today:
Cumberbatch will play a young father whose hold on reality crumbles following his wife’s death as a strange presence begins to stalk him from the shadowy recesses of the apartment he shares with his two young sons.
This mysterious creature, known as “Crow,” seemingly brought to life from the pages of his work as an illustrator, becomes a very real part of all their lives, ultimately guiding them towards the new shape family must take.
This will actually be the second major adaptation of Porter’s debut. In 2019, Irish playwright Enda Walsh adapted Grief into an acclaimed stage play starring Cillian Murphy (who won an Irish Times Theatre Award for “Best Actor” for his performance).
“Having been a huge fan of Max Porter’s extraordinary book and Enda Walsh’s stage adaptation I was skeptical about a film adaptation,” said Cumberbatch. “But the experience of reading Dylan Southern’s adaptation rekindled the cinematic memory of reading this most visceral tale of a family consumed by grief. Dylan has handled the deftness of Max’s kinetic poetry masterfully.
“It’s so well realized both on the page and in the deck and pitch. It holds all the wildly sharp turns of changing tones and colors between the domestic and mythic, between the despair, comedy, and every day of loss. It’s a thrilling read, and I couldn’t be more excited to be taking Dylan’s cinematic vision of it to the big screen.”
No word yet on who will voice Crow, but my vote is for Mr. Family himself, Vin Diesel, who, lest we forget, is one of the few actors with experience in this very specific area, having voiced the titular Iron Giant in Brad Bird’s 1999 animated adaptation of Ted Hughes’ 1968 sci-fi novel.
Give Vin the Hughes crow, let’s see what he can do with it.