I, Claudius Remake

From the incipit of a movie column in the Times:

William Graves, son of the writer and poet Robert Graves, has sold the rights of his father’s I, Claudius for a big-screen feature, to be directed by Jim Sheridan. Leonardo DiCaprio, whose production company is appropriately called Appian Way, has expressed interest in the project in the past. William, a retired geologist, got $500,000 for the rights and hopes it will be a little bit “raunchy”.

Meanwhile, bids are brewing in Los Angeles for the Oxford poet’s other most famous book, the mordant first-world-war memoir Good-bye to All That, and HBO scouts are scanning the letters Graves exchanged with Spike Milligan in the 1960s — which embarrasses William. He says his Edwardian father was going a little “celebrity” by then.

The BBC’s serialisation of I, Claudius in the 1970s turned Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Patrick Stewart and Brian Blessed into household names; the more recent series Rome did the same in America for Polly Walker, James Purefoy, Ray Stevenson and Kevin McKidd. It’s even persuading Hollywood that old books may be the next big thing. What is that old saw? Latin is a language, as dead as dead can be… Not quite.

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