Kelly Marcel

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Kelly Marcel
Born (1974-01-10) 10 January 1974 (age 45)
London, England, United Kingdom
OccupationScreenwriter, television producer, television writer, actress
Years active1989-present
Notable work

Kelly Marcel (born 10 January 1974) is a British writer, actress and television producer. She is best known for co-writing the film Saving Mr. Banks (2013) and writing the film Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), and as the creator and executive producer of the television series Terra Nova.


Marcel is the daughter of director Terry Marcel and actress Lindsey Brookand, and the older sister of actress Rosie Marcel.[1]


Marcel has played minor roles in television series such as The Bill, Holby City, and Casualty.[2] She had a largely non-speaking role as Young Vera in the 1994 television film adaptation of A Dark-Adapted Eye.

Marcel eventually quit acting to pursue writing, while working part-time in Prime Time Video, a video rental shop in Battersea, London. Around the corner from the video shop was the Latchmere pub, where Tom Hardy hosted an acting workshop. Marcel and Hardy became friends, and he subsequently brought Marcel in to do uncredited rewrites on his 2008 film Bronson, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, after it ran into trouble. One of Hardy's tattoos says 'Skribe' in tribute to Marcel.[3]

While working at the video shop, she wrote a script for a TV show called Gondwanaland Highway. She wrote it for her dad, who had been telling her about the supercontinent Gondwanaland and reading a Stephen Hawking book on time travel. Marcel, who had just seen Al Gore's 2006 global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth, combined these three influences into the script. Gondwanaland Highway was almost picked up by Carnival Films, the UK production company behind Downton Abbey, when producer Aaron Kaplan persuaded Marcel to bring the show to America instead.[4]

Her agent booked her a fortnight in Los Angeles in a fleabag hotel, to pitch to American networks. She partnered with American writer Craig Silverstein, who had experience pitching. A bidding war broke out between two networks, and she received an offer to write a 13-episode season at $300,000 a show. Unsure it was what she wanted to write, however, Marcel turned down the offer, a feeling made certain after producer Steven Spielberg proposed that the series should involve dinosaurs. Marcel opted to sell the idea to Fox, but not continue with the project.[3] Gondwanaland Highway would ultimately be retitled Terra Nova, with Fox skipping the pilot process and ordering a 13-episode season. Marcel received a 'created by' credit, and was asked to stay on as a guiding hand, but declined. The show was cancelled after one season.[4]

During the same trip, she also sold a script about death row, titled Westbridge, to Showtime. She worked on the script with director Tommy Schlamme. Though the script went unmade, it became a calling card for Marcel in Hollywood.[4]

After her two-week trip to Los Angeles and her decision not to continue working on Terra Nova, Marcel return to the London video shop. She was approached by Ruby Films' Alison Owen to work on a project about Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers and her relationship with Walt Disney for BBC Films, based on an earlier draft by Sue Smith.[5] The script, Saving Mr. Banks, landed on the 2011 Black List, and was acquired by Disney.[6]

The film was released in 2013, directed by John Lee Hancock, and starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers. Marcel and Smith shared writing credit.[7] Marcel was nominated for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer at the 67th Annual BAFTA Awards.[8]

Marcel was hired in 2012 to adapt E. L. James' bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, with Sam Taylor-Johnson directing, after Universal Pictures and Focus Features won the rights to the Fifty Shades trilogy for $5 million in a bidding war.[9] Though the film was financially successful, grossing $571.1 million worldwide on a $40 million budget and spawning two sequels, both Marcel and Johnson has expressed unhappiness with the finished film, with Marcel describing it as too painful to watch.[10] Of particular issue was James' insistence that the film preserve her original dialogue in its entirety, and threatening to boycott the film if the dialogue was rewritten.[11]

She was one of the writers on Sony's Venom adaptation, alongside Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the film stars Marcel's friend and frequent collaborator Tom Hardy in the title role.[12] In January 2019, Variety reported that she would return to write the script for the sequel.[13]



Year Film Credit Notes
1989 Great Balls of Fire! Teenage Girl #2
1991 Turbulence Ruth
1994 Wild Justice Melissa Stride TV movie
Mainline Run Sarah
1995 Clockwork Mice Thanks
2000 Strong Language Phillipa
2008 Bronson Script editor
2009 The Heavy
The Pamela Principle Pamela Short
2013 Saving Mr. Banks Written by Co-wrote with Sue Smith
2015 Fifty Shades of Grey Screenplay by
2017 Baby Driver The filmmakers wish to thank
2018 Venom Screenplay by, executive producer Co-wrote screenplay with Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, based on a story by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg
2020 Venom 2 Screenplay in development


Year Film Credit Notes
1989-2005 The Bill Girl at Party, Shelley McGuire, Marie Spencer, Bridget Dawson
1992 Causality Vicky Morris
1993 What You Lookin' At? Elaine
Woof! Miranda
1994 A Dark Adapted Eye Young Vera TV mini series
Love Hurts Louise
1997 Dangerfield Elaine Foster
2003 Holby City Rachel Hughes
2011 Terra Nova Created by, executive producer, story by, teleplay by Co-created with Craig Silverstein


  1. ^ Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Collins, Scott (11 September 2011). "Fall TV: 'Terra Nova'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  3. ^ a b Leigh, Danny (21 November 2013). "Kelly Marcel: 'Someone from Disney's going to come and kill me'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b c "Kelly's heroics: How the British writer behind TV's most expensive drama cracked LA". The Independent. 28 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Director John Lee Hancock on 'Saving Mr. Banks': We Went for the Truth, Not the Facts". TheWrap. 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  6. ^ Jr, Mike Fleming (2012-02-08). "Disney Acquiring Black List Script 'Saving Mr. Banks,' On Making 'Mary Poppins'". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  7. ^ Smith, Julia Llewellyn (2016-12-23). "Saving Mr Banks: the true story of Walt Disney's battle to make Mary Poppins". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  8. ^ "Bafta Film Awards 2014: Winners". BBC News. 2014-02-16. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  9. ^ "'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Hires Writer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  10. ^ Child, Ben (2015-06-10). "Fifty Shades of Grey screenwriter says film is 'too painful' to watch". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  11. ^ Child, Ben (2015-02-06). "Fifty Shades of grating teeth: EL James 'threatened boycott' of film if dialogue rewritten". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (2017-10-03). "Jenny Slate Joins Tom Hardy in 'Venom' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (2019-01-08). "'Venom' Sequel in Works With Kelly Marcel Returning to Pen Script(EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-26.

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