Cary Grant is still unanimous in Hollywood. The English actor, who left the circus for the cinema, still represents class, generosity, and talent. There’s a saying that more or less sums up what he meant: anyone looks even better next to Cary Grant, that’s because not only did he awaken the talent of his colleagues, but he was graceful to let them shine even more than himself.
However, it was not to be imagined that, behind the scenes, the life of Cary Grant – the stage name of Archibald Alec Leach – was perfect. His childhood harsh on the streets of Bristol, his (denied) relationships with men, in particular his friend Randolph Scott, his connection to drugs like LSD, his marriage to complex millionaire Barbara Hutton, and his messy divorce from Dyan Cannon, have long been overdue. Not all fans remember or know these things, as he wished it had remained a secret. But no one as big as he can keep that at bay.
That’s why the announcement that the British channel ITV has ordered a series about the actor’s life made noise this week. Actor Jason Isaacs, best known to the general public as Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter, will play Cary. The series will be called Archie, in reference to his real name, and is being written by screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena).
For those expecting many revelations, we may have a little doubt. Archie has the approval of Cary Grant’s only child, Jennifer, so it must have some details, like her parent’s ugly divorce, somehow toned down. Dyan Cannon, incidentally, was also “extensively” interviewed to help with the narrative. The two are executive producers on the series. Dyan and Cary fought over custody of Jennifer and the actor left his career to personally take care of their daughter. This element was the hook that aroused interest in the screenwriter.
According to the website Deadline, the story will be told in flashback, interspersing the actor’s childhood, his early years in Hollywood, and the beginning of his relationship with Dyan Cannon, in 1961. Archie begins with the birth of Archibald in Bristol, in 1904, will show his childhood spent in extreme poverty dealing with his father’s adultery and the loss of his older brother John and how, at age 14, he joined the music hall band Bob Pender Troupe, with which he moved to the US and finally, how he created Cary Grant. Quite a bit to cover only in 4 episodes!
There was natural awkwardness about Jason Isaacs being cast as the Hollywood icon, given his very distinct appearance from Cary Grant, but talent? Do not miss. Divided into four episodes, the series will tell the story of his humble beginnings as Archibald Alexander Leach in Bristol, to being the most in-demand protagonist in Hollywood, as he later became.
Jason posted a note about his choice for the role. “There was only one Cary Grant and I’d never be foolish enough to try to step into his iconic shoes,” he said. “Archie Leach, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from the character he invented to save himself. Jeff’s brilliant scripts bring to life his relentless struggle to escape the demons that plagued him, his obsessive need for control, his fears, his weaknesses, his loves, and his losses. It’s the story of a man, not a legend, and those are shoes I can’t wait to walk in.”
And we can hardly wait to see.