| A still from Elizabeth
London, June 19: Clive Owen, the brooding star of Closer and Sin City, is to play Sir Walter Raleigh in a '20-million sequel to the 1998 film Elizabeth.
Owen, 40, is in talks to star opposite Cate Blanchett who will reprise her role as the Virgin Queen. The film, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, will detail the Tudor monarch’s tempestuous relationship with Raleigh and suggest that Elizabeth was infatuated with the courtier and adventurer.
The exact nature of the Queen’s relationship with Raleigh, which was the talk of the Elizabethan Court, continues to fuel speculation.
Some historians believe that the Queen’s extravagant largesse towards the former soldier, by granting properties and trading monopolies, was proof of a deep infatuation. There is also ample evidence to suggest that she was jealous of his relationships with other women. He was thrown in the Tower for a time when it emerged that he had seduced one of her ladies in waiting.
For his part, Raleigh, who described himself as “wholly gentleman and wholly soldier”, never missed an opportunity to flatter Elizabeth in public. On one occasion he is reputed to have attracted her attention by scribbling verses on a pane of glass with a diamond.
A source close to the film, which will be directed by Shekhar Kapur, who also directed Elizabeth, said the casting of Blanchett and Owen was the stuff of cinema magic.
“These are two stars who are capable of generating some real electricity,” he said. “We are talking about two of the most beautiful people to grace the big screen.”
While the pairing should prove a winner at the box office, it is unlikely to go down well with Elizabethan experts.
Jane Dunn, the biographer who wrote the acclaimed Elizabeth and Mary, Cousins, Rivals, Queens, said she welcomed Blanchett’s decision to reprise the role but was worried that Owen’s involvement in the sequel might mean that the producers were “trying to sex things up”.
She said there was no evidence to suggest that Elizabeth slept with Raleigh or “any other man on the make”.
“I loved what Cate did in the first film because I think she was extremely moving in the lead role,” she said.
“Having said that, the history in the first film was bunkum. It was mixed up and unnecessarily wrong. I fear that they will try to sex things up. The remarkable thing about Elizabeth was not that she jumped into bed with every man she met but that she so effectively resisted temptation.
“People did speculate that she slept with Raleigh, among others, but they also speculated that she was incapable of physically making love to anyone. There is no evidence that she slept with any man.”