Keira to star in movie at Holkham

It will be the latest blockbuster movie to feature scenes from Norfolk - and two of the big screen's hottest properties are among the stars.

It will be the latest blockbuster movie to feature scenes from Norfolk - and two of the big screen's hottest properties are among the stars.

And now hundreds of local people are being given a dream chance to rub shoulders with the filmworld's finest and get their few seconds of fame.

The Duchess is a chronicle of the colourful and often anguished life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Hot from her acclaimed role in the period drama Atonement, Keira Knightley will take the title role playing opposite East Anglian-born Ralph Fiennes as her husband. Veteran British actress Charlotte Rampling is also among the top-notch cast.

Georgiana was a celebrated beauty of her day and a socialite at the centre of a circle of leading political and literary figures.

But she was also notorious for her extravagant lifestyle and infamous for her marital arrangements - her best friend becoming the Duke's mistress.

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Now the magnificent 18th century Holkham Hall, near Wells, is to be the location for exterior and interior filming of this lavish costume drama.

The production teams are busily looking for hundreds of local people of all ages to work as extras during the course of the filming.

Filming at undisclosed locations began two weeks ago and is due is to take place at Holkham between October 28 and November 7. There will be an open casting session for people interested in being extras on October 6 at Fakenham Methodist Church. The session will be held from 9am until 6pm.

The film is being directed by former University of East Anglia student Saul Dibb and Jeffrey Hatcher has written the screenplay. The film is based on the bestselling book Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman.

Keira Knightley first came to the public eye for her role in Bend It Like Beckham, before joining Hollywood's A-list with roles in Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice and Love Actually.

Ralph Fiennes, who will play the Duke of Devonshire, has starred in the Harry Potter series of films and is also known for The English Patient, Schindler's List and The Constant Gardener.

His brother, Joseph, played the leading role in Shakespeare in Love, which was also partly filmed at Holkham and featured the famous scene of Gwyneth Paltrow walking across the vast sandy beach.

Other parts will be played by Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Aidan McArdle and Emily Jewell.

The film's second assistant director, Nick Shuttleworth, responsible for the crowd scenes, said : “We are looking for all types of people of all ages to take parts as extras”.

He explained that the casting session in Fakenham on October 6 will simply involve taking photos and measurements.

“We are looking for hundreds of people so please tell all your friends,” said Mr Shuttleworth.

Holkham Hall is the seat of the 7th Earl of Leicester and the mansion is no stranger to film crews, particularly for period dramas. Other dramas filmed on the Holkham Estate include All the King's Men, starring David Jason, The Lost Prince and the TV series Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry.

For more information about the casting for extras email

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