Before she becomes the Baby Passenger in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver movie, Lily James will tackle a little thing like swimming the English Channel. Deadline reports the Downton Abbey alum has has been cast as the lead in a film adaptation of Glenn Stout’s Young Woman And The Sea. The book tells the story of Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle, an Olympic swimming champion from New York who became the first woman to complete the aquatic feat. Bruckheimer will produce along with Jeff Nathanson (Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), who will also write the script.
Ederle had already set a stateside record (that stood for 81 years) for a 22-mile swim from Battery Park to Sandy Hook, New Jersey before she began training for the English Channel trip in 1925. By then, five men had successfully swam across the Channel, which ignited a competition among women to be the first to follow suit. Ederle secured sponsorships from the New York Daily News and the Chicago Tribune, which paid for her training (and provided her with a salary) in exchange for the rights to her story. On August 6, 1926, Ederle successfully swam across the English Channel from Cape Gris-Nez, France to Kingsdown, Kent, where she was hailed as “Trudy From America.”
But just as quickly as she arrived at international stardom, Ederle faded from the public eye. She had a failed vaudeville career and a spine injury, and her finances (along with those of so many others) were hit pretty hard the Great Depression. Stout’s book details both her rise and fall, so Bruckheimer and Nathanson will have plenty of material to work with. There’s currently no director attached to the project.