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Keira Knightley in Talks for Barbra Streisand’s Catherine the Great Biopic

Focus Features
Focus Features

It’s been 20 years since Barbra Streisand directed a feature film, though there’s been no shortage of her talents on stage and screen since. Streisand is ready to get back in the director’s chair with an upcoming biopic about Catherine the Great, and it looks like Keira Knightley may be her leading lady in the film that follows the life of the famous Russian ruler.

The Wrap reports that Knightley — who has basically made a career out of starring in period pieces — is in talks to play the leading role in the Catherine the Great biopic, which centers on the eponymous Catherine, the Prussian-born royal who wed Peter the Third and became ruler of Russia when he was assassinated. Catherine was the most famous and the longest-running female ruler of the country, with a reign that lasted from 1762 until she died in 1796. During her rule, Catherine ushered in a Golden Age for Russia with her love of the arts and sciences, and was hailed for her reformation efforts.

Her personal life was far more fascinating, and gave rise to legends about her sexual appetite — while it’s true that she had over 20 lovers in the course of her life, and that she had an “erotic cabinet” built next to her private quarters, the rumors of her intimate dalliance with a horse is supremely false.

Streisand’s Catherine the Great biopic is based on a 2014 Black List screenplay by Kristina Lauren Anderson, and will be produced by Gil Netter and his Netter Productions banner, which backed Oscar winners Life of Pi and The Blind Side.

Knightley appears next opposite Will Smith in Collateral Beauty, which is slated to hit theaters this winter.

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