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Richard E. Grant And Brian Cox To Star In Short ‘Wittgenstein’s Poker’

EXCLUSIVE: Richard E. Grant and Brian Cox (Succession) have signed on to star in the animated short project Wittgenstein’s Poker from filmmaker Christian De Vita.

We understand the short tells the story of the real-life encounter between two of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. Their notorious dispute, known as the Cambridge Poker Incident, ended in one of them allegedly threatening the other with a red-hot fire poker.

Grant stars as Ludwig Wittgenstein while Karl Markovics (The Counterfeiters) will portray Karl Popper. Cox has been cast as Bertrand Russell, who was also present during the infamous confrontation in 1946. The synopsis reads: This remarkable ensemble will breathe life into this unique historical moment.

The film will be directed by Christian De Vita, best known for his previous work as the lead storyboard artist on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, and his role as Series Director on the Disney Junior series PJ Masks. The musical score will be composed by Oscar-winning British composer Stephen Warbeck (Billy Elliot). The screenplay has been penned by Casey Cohen, who also serves as the film’s producer.

Wittgenstein’s Poker will be produced as a traditional 2D hand-drawn animation film, with  a watercolor style that produces say will “transport audiences into the intellectual battleground of these great philosophers, visualizing emotion through the main character’s journey to that fateful meeting.”

This project is adapted from the acclaimed book of the same name, written by two BBC journalists, David Edmonds and John Eidinow. The book has been translated into 18 languages, with over half a million copies sold.

The team behind Wittgenstein’s Poker is launching a fundraising Kickstarter campaign on May 1. Backers will receive rewards such as signed script copies by all three cast members, a Wittgenstein drawing by Richard E. Grant, a storyboarding masterclass with the director Christian De Vita, a first edition copy of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus from 1922, and a guided tour of the room at Cambridge University where this infamous confrontation took place.

The Kickstarter project has been selected as one of eight short films by Kickstarter and MIFA as part of their new initiative to support creators in collaboration with the Annecy International Animation Festival in June. 

“Using a traditional 2D animation style, we aim to capture the intensity and brilliance of these iconic philosophers, creating a visually captivating narrative that will immortalize this historical moment on screen,” said De Vita.

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