Back in March, it was announced that Working Title was developing a biopic based on Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) directing. They’ve hired Wonder screenwriter Jack Thorne to write the script.
Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner’s production company picked up Mardini’s life rights to tell the story of the amazing teen Olympian swimmer from Syria who helped save a boat full of fellow refugees by pushing their dinghy across the Aegean Sea. Bevan and Fellner are producing the film alongside producer Ali Jaafar (The Idol).
The untitled Yusra Mardini biopic will tell the story of the Syrian refugee who fled with her sister to Greece in 2015. When their boat began to sink, Mardini and her sister jumped into the freezing waters of the Aegean Sea and pushed the boat for three hours to safety. After moving to Berlin, Mardini met coach Sven Spannekrebs, and swam in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil in the first-ever “Team Refugee.” She’s become a heroic champion and ambassador for refugees, having met Barack Obama and the Pope as well as delivering keynote speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Repped by UTA and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, Thorne has become one of the UK’s most prolific film and TV writers with his most recent script for Wonder becoming a huge hit for Lionsgate, grossing $127 million worldwide. Thorne also wrote the British mini-series Kiri which premiered on Channel 4 last night with 3 million viewers. The mini-series stars Sarah Lancashire and deals with the abduction and murder of a young black girl that was to be adopted by a white foster family.
Before that, Thorne wrote episodes of Shameless and Skins and the Channel 4 drama National Treasure, as well as the stageplay Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is coming to Broadway this year. Thorne also worked on the Netflix musical drama The Eddy with La La Land‘s Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle.
Besides Wonder, Thorne wrote the thriller War Book, Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts, which will be released by Amazon Studios and even a Marie Curie biopic called Radioactive for Gone Girl star Rosamund Pike.
Playing Mardini should be an absolutely amazing role for a young Middle-Eastern actor that will likely involve a fairly wide casting search to find someone new, because there aren’t many current teen actors that have a similar ethnic background as Mardini.
Thorne’s attachment was first reported by Deadline.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor