I just learned yesterday from a link a friend sent me and from Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s blog that the team of producers who made The Soloist have optioned the movie rights to Professor Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier, which is the story of the libel suit brought against her by Holocaust denier David Irving in the U.K., a lawsuit that Irving ultimately lost big time.
This is excellent news. Having read her book, as well as Richard Evans’ account of the trial, Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial, I had always thought that the story of David Irving’s ill-fated attempt to silence Professor Lipstadt by suing her for libel in the U.K., whose libel laws are notoriously plaintiff-friendly, would make an excellent movie. It has it all: Drama, fighting against long odds, and, above all, a villain who is a caricature of the worst of British blowhards, David Irving. (On second thought, it doesn’t have romance; hopefully the producers won’t try to add a cheesy romantic subplot…)
I realize that optioning the rights to a book is a long way from actually shooting a movie and that many are the stories whose rights are optioned that never find their way onto film. Even so, I don’t think it’s too early to start making casting suggestions. Even though it’s a very obvious choice, I vote Meryl Streep to play Professor Lipstadt. However, that leaves the question of who could play David Irving. Irving himself, in a characteristically lame attempt at humor, has suggested John Cleese to play Lipstadt. How droll, Mr. Irving, and, no, Anthony Hopkins is not a good option to play you, unless he does it as Hannibal Lecter, although Jack Nicholson might be a good option if he’s in full The Shining mode. However, having John Cleese play Irving would make sense, especially if he does it in his full-out Basil Fawlty mode. I could totally picture that. Or maybe Rowan Atkinson.
But, hey, that’s just me. What about you? Who should play David Irving in a movie about the Lipstadt trial?