Coming off of the North American premiere of her upcoming drama “In the Fade” at Tiff, Diane Kruger has just signed on to topline another project. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the “Inglourious Basterds” actress will portray iconic actress and accomplished inventor Hedy Lamarr in a miniseries from Straight Up Films. Kruger is also set to produce the project, which will be adapted from Richard Rhodes’ book “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”
The miniseries will focus especially on Lamarr’s development of a frequency-hopping radio signal. She invented the technology with a friend during WWII and “approached the military, who at the time turned them away,” THR writes. “It was only a generation later that the military began looking at it and using it. The technology, called Spread Spectrum Technology, now underpins Bluetooth and WiFi use.”
The Austrian-born Lamarr starred in Hollywood films including “Comrade X,” “Tortilla Flat,” and “Samson & Deiliah” in the 1930s and 40s. Her first husband — an Austrian munitions manufacturer connected to the regimes of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy — “ruled their marriage with an iron fist,” THR notes, but introduced Lamarr to military scientists, which sparked her interest in inventing and technology.
Lamarr died in 2000 from cardiac issues. She was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.
“I am fascinated by Hedy Lamarr,” Kruger commented. “She was a smart, witty, visionary inventor, way ahead of her time, who also happened to be a major movie star. I cannot wait to tell her story to make sure her legacy will live on forever and inspire others.”
Joining Kruger as producers on the miniseries are Straight Up’s Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen, and Sandra Condito, and Untitled Entertainment’s Abi Harris and Jason Weinberg. Rose Ganguzza, Gene Kelly, Rhodes, and philanthropic organization Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are collaborating to exec produce the project. The Sloan Foundation, which supports developments in science and technology, is also bestowing Kruger with a screenwriting development grant for the project.
Alexandra Dean’s documentary “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” debuted at the Tribeca Film Fest earlier this year. The majority of the doc’s funding came from the Sloan Foundation. “I spent years profiling inventors and innovators for Bloomberg Television and Businessweek, but I never heard a life story that came close to Hedy’s,” Dean told us in an interview. “I suppose it also particularly resonated for me because as a short, quiet woman who always wanted to be a director, I know a little about what it’s like to want to do something that no one expects you to do.”
Another story about women’s previously-unrecognized contributions to science recently rocked the box office. “Hidden Figures” grossed over $230 million worldwide. The Oscar-nominated drama shone a spotlight on Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), brilliant women of color who played an instrumental role in the space race while working at Nasa.
“In the Fade,” in which Kruger portrays bereaved wife and mother seeking revenge, will open in Germany November 23. The drama was recently acquired by Magnolia Pictures with a planned awards-qualifying run for this fall, but no U.S. release date has been announced. Kruger won the Best Actress award at Cannes this year for the film.
Diane Kruger to Topline and Produce Miniseries About Hedy Lamarr was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.