Starring Meryl Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the British Suffragette movement, Suffragette is the first commercial film to ever be granted permission to shoot in the U.K. Houses of Parliament. Previously, filmmakers had to reconstruct sets of the Palace of Westminster. The Sarah Gavron-directed movie, which portrays the epic feminist movement, will begin filming at the fittingly historic location over Parliament’s Easter Recess.
The London and British Film Commision chief executive Adrian Wootton stated, “This unique location promises to attract more production to the capital, and by working with the industry and our partners, we will help ensure it can get the most out of filming, while protecting the integrity of this very special building.”
Set in the early 20th century, Suffragette is about women’s fight for equal voting rights. Gavron has previously directed Brick Lane (2007), which follows a young woman who leaves her family in Bangladesh to voyage to London, for an arranged marriage. Gavron will once again direct a feminist focused feature film related to the notion of women seeking independence. Pankhurst (Streep’s character) was a progressive activist who led protests around Westminster and was jailed for attempting to enter The House of Commons in 1908.
In addition to Streep, the cast also includes Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis, Drive, and An Education), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Cloud Atlas, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), and Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech, Fight Club, and The Wings of the Dove).
Noting these accomplished actors, Wootton additionally encouraged the production: “I look forward to seeing it [Parliament] on screen in the star-studded Suffragette, which will be a fantastic showcase of British talent, behind and in front of the camera, and this very special new location.” Suffragette’s writer, Abi Morgan is best known for writing The Invisible Woman, Shame, and The Iron Lady. Suffragette holds high expectations, considering that the last time Streep acted in a film written by Morgan, she won an Oscar for best actress in 2012 (for The Iron Lady).
A battle between women seeking political activism and a closed minded government will be reincarnated in London. Having recently received her eighteenth Oscar nomination for August: Osage County, it seems fitting that Streep would also be the one to open doors to the Houses of Parliament for the film industry.