Dusty Springfield will be the focus of the new motion picture "Dusty" from Jim Sheridan, with support from Screen Ireland, inspired by the star’s largely unknown Irish heritage.
Dublin native Sheridan, a six-time Oscar nominee, has signed on to direct the untold and moving story of 1960s soul singer Dusty Springfield with the aim of bringing her life and music to a new generation.
"This is a woman 50 years ahead of her time," Sheridan said of his latest subject.
"Her Irish and Catholic background gave no hint of the visionary and transformative crusades she led. I can't wait to get on set."
Real name Mary O'Brien, Springfield was born "from Irish immigrant stock" in London in 1939.
Secretly gay, Mary lived her life trapped in agonising silence before overcoming her convent school, Irish Catholic background to transform herself into a daring alter ego - Dusty Springfield.
Her silky, and sensual voice went on to define the sound of the 1960s, with songs such as "I Only Want to Be with You," "Son of A Preacher Man," and "You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me."
In his new film, Sheridan tracks the highlights and low-lights of Springfield's life and interweaves her fight for sexual equality and social justice with the loves and struggles of her own existence - from her love affair with Motown music to her first meaningful relationship with a Black female backing singer in New York.
The acclaimed star, who spent most of her adult life in the UK and the US, died in 1999 and had her ashes cast off the Cliffs of Moher.
Titled "Dusty," Sheridan's new film tracks the journey taken by the young Mary O’Brien from her shy and timid persona with a hauntingly unique singing voice into her triumphant alter ego, Dusty Springfield.
Sheridan said: "Suffering for her challenges, fighting other people’s causes, she endured mental agony before finally reconciling herself and her sexuality in harmony with her music and her audience.
"In the end, Dusty reconnects with the real Mary O’Brien and is happy to do so and that is the essence of the story we are keen to capture."
Sheridan added: "I am tremendously excited to be part of the project and to take on the challenge of telling the story and reveling in the music of an extraordinary woman and singing sensation," Sheridan said.
"She wore every cause on her sleeves and fought against racism, promoted gender equality and gay pride at great cost to her personal and professional life.
"Her life and her music are built for a biopic of this type and her Irish background and life among the Irish diaspora of London really appeals to me and it is a world that I know very well.
"She was a remarkable woman, decades ahead of her time."
For "Dusty," Sheridan is sharing writing credit with young British writer Sameera Steward, who had been working on an adaptation of Karen Bartlett's "Dusty Springfield ‘An Intimate Portrait of a Music Legend."
The project has been supported with early development funding from Screen Ireland through Irish producers, Dare Films Ireland.
The picture, produced by Bob Blagden, Donal MacIntyre, and Tony Virgo, is expected to go into full production in early 2025.
Sheridan is currently in discussions with several actors for the coveted role of Dusty.