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Helen Mirren to Play Tormented ‘Winchester’ Rifle Heir in Supernatural Thriller

The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company

One of the most compelling actresses in the world is about to take on one of the most compelling true stories of all time, which makes this movie an instant must-see. Helen Mirren is closing a deal to play Sarah Winchester in a new supernatural thriller based on the unnervingly strange story of the heir to the famed rifle manufacturing fortune. Simply titled Winchester, the project comes from the directing duo behind Daybreakers and Predestination.

Deadline reports the news from Cannes, as Mirren is finalizing a deal to play the lead role in Winchester for directors Peter and Michael Spierig. For those unfamiliar, the story of Sarah Winchester is a fascinating and eerie one: She was the wife of William Winchester, whose father built the Winchester Repeating Arms empire, famous for manufacturing “the gun that won the west.”

Following the sudden deaths of her young child, husband, and father-in-law, Sarah inherited the Winchester estate and became convinced that her family had been cursed by the spirits of those killed by the famous rifles. Heeding the advice of an alleged psychic, she moved out west to build a house for herself and the spirits — though the psychic warned Sarah that if construction on the house ever ceased, the spirits would claim her life.

So she built what is now known as the Winchester Mystery House, an elaborate and bizarre estate that now serves as a tourist attraction in San Jose, California. The home was under construction 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for 38 years. It has 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces and 17 chimneys, with two basements and three — but as construction was never able to cease as long as Sarah lived, the home has some very unnerving design elements, including windows that look out on walls, doors that open to nowhere, and staircases that lead to nothing.

That’s only about half of the story, if you can believe it, and it’s interesting enough without taking the supernatural element and legitimizing it. But that’s what the Spierigs are plotting with their take on the story, and if Helen Mirren thinks it’s good, then it might very well be good.

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