How exciting: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Keeley Hawes (The Durrells in Corfu) will star together in an upcoming period drama.

Keeley Hawes (L), Patricia Neal und Roald Dahl (C), Hugh Bonneville (R)

To help keep this site running: Willow and Thatch may receive a commission when you click on any of the links on our site and make a purchase after doing so.

The pair will lead the cast as Roald Dahl, the British children’s book author, and Patricia Neal, his movie star wife.

The “warm, funny and powerful” script set in Britain’s countryside tells the story of the world’s most beloved children’s author, Roald Dahl (Hugh Bonneville) and his “electric” relationship with film star wife, Patricia Neal (Keeley Hawes).

Dahl (1916 – 1990) is known around the world for his timeless books, some of which have been adapted into family movies, including Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. He also enjoyed a successful career in television, and wrote the screenplay for the Edwardian-set period drama Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, an adaptation of his 1964 book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Kentucky-born Neal (1926–2010) acted from childhood, and went on to become an Oscar and Tony Award winner. Known for her roles in “Hud” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Neal also appeared in a number of period dramas. In The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the pilot movie for “The Waltons,” Neal starred as an unforgettable Olivia Walton (recast with Michael Learned for the series). Later, she shined in the role of the dying widowed mother on “Little House on the Prairie” in the 2-episode Remember Me, and played the grandmother in the 1993 TV series Heidi.

“I can’t wait to start work on this film,” said Keeley Hawes. “The story… is extraordinary, and I’m so excited to be part of it and so looking forward to working with the brilliant Hugh Bonneville.”

In 1962 Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal retreated to the English countryside to bring up their joyful and expanding young family (they had 5 children over the course of their marriage). The unlikely pairing of an Academy Award-winning actress and a burgeoning children’s author, Dahl and Neal put their relationship to the test, revealing a love more painful than anything Roald Dahl ever wrote about in his books.

“Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal seemingly had it all until an unimaginable event threatened to tear their family apart,” Director John Hay said.

However, for this remarkable pair, redemption and strength sees them changed forever.

Filming on the still-unnamed period drama has begun in Surrey, England. The title was previously known as “An Unquiet Life.”

Stay tuned for the release date.

The movie will be directed by John Hay (Lost Christmas). Hay also wrote the film alongside David Logan. The picture is being produced by Donall McCusker (The White Princess), Adrian Politowski (The Artist) and others. The film is an Align/Goldcrest presentation, produced by Atticus Films and financed by Align, LipSync Productions LLP and Goldcrest Features Inc.

If you enjoyed this post, wander over to The Period Films List. You’ll also want to read about the new period drama Louis Wain, a biopic about the Victorian era British artist.