Chevalier, a new film about the famed 18th-century Black composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, will begin filming in Prague from September 7. Kelvin Harrison Jr., who starred as Fred Hampton in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and appears as B.B. King in the new Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic, will play the title role.
Australian actress Samara Weaving (Ready or Not, Snake Eyes), Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody, Murder on the Orient Express), and Minnie Driver (who plays the Queen in Amazon’s new Cinderella, streaming later this week) will also star in Chevalier.
Chevalier will tell the story of Joseph Bologne, the illegitimate son of a French plantation owner and African slave who rises through the French aristocracy due to his skills as both a fencer and composer. In the film, an affair with a noblewoman (played by Weaving) and a falling out with Queen Marie-Antoinette (Boynton) leads to his downfall.
While Chevalier later became known as the “Black Mozart”, that title actually is something of an anachronism: Chevalier was Mozart’s senior by eleven years, and is theorized to have had a direct influence on his work.
Mozart’s Symphonie Concertante in E-flat, written in 1778, contains a passage that is nearly identical to a Chevalier piece written the year prior. Chevalier is also said to have been an inspiration for the villain in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.
Chevalier will be directed by Stephen Williams, a veteran TV director who has worked on high-profile series including Westworld, Watchmen, and The Walking Dead. He most recently produced and directed for True Story, a new Netflix miniseries starring Kevin Hart and Wesley Snipes slated to release later this year.
The script for Chevalier has been penned by Stefani Robinson, who has written for the acclaimed FX series Atlanta and What We Do in the Shadows. The movie is produced by Searchlight Pictures, now a subsidiary of Disney.
Prague has a storied history as the site of production for classical composer biopics, most notably director Miloš Forman’s Amadeus. The Oscar-winning film, starring Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, shot in Prague in 1983, with the Czech capital standing in for Vienna.
Immortal Beloved, starring Gary Oldman as Ludwig van Beethoven, shot in Prague and locations around the Czech Republic about a decade later. The Mozart drama Interlude in Prague, starring James Purefoy and Samantha Barks, also recently shot in the Czech capital.
Prague will presumably fill in for late-18th century Paris for the production of Chevalier.