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True story behind Marie Curie film Radioactive – plus release date and cast

Rosamund Pike stars as scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie in a biopic from the mind behind Persepolis

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A multitude of award-winning talent is behind this Marie Curie biopic. The pioneering and highly accomplished chemist and physicist helped further the understanding of radioactivity, a term which she coined.

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With Marjane Satrapi – the Academy Award nominated director of Persepolis directing, Jack Thorn writing the screenplay (having also written the drama The Aeronauts and adapting His Dark Materials for television) and Rosamund Pike stepping into Marie Curie’s shoes, here is everything you need to know about the upcoming biographical drama.

When is Radioactive coming out?

The film will premiere in the UK on Saturday 8th March, to coincide with International Women’s Day. The premier, which will take place at The Curzon Mayfair in London will feature a Q&A with Rosamund Pike and Marjane Satrapi, which will also be broadcast into cinemas nationwide. The wide release of the film is on 20th March.

What is Radioactive about?

The film follows Polish-French chemist and physicist Marie Curie, spanning from the 1870s onwards and chronicling various aspects of her life, from her scientific breakthroughs to her personal relationships.

It is the fourth biopic of Curie, following on from 1943’s Oscar nominated Madame Curie, the 1997 French production Les Palmes de M. Schutz and 2016’s Marie Curie: The Courage of Knowledge.

Is Radioactive a true story?

In real life, Marie Curie was born Maria Skłodowska in 1867 in Warsaw, which was then part of the Kingdom of Poland in the Russian Empire. She went on to meet French physicist Pierre Curie, who she married in 1895. They remained married until his death in 1906.

Curie’s many achievements across her life included her becoming the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, winning the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics alongside her husband. She later went on to win the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming the first woman to win the Nobel Prize twice.

Along with her Nobel Prize accolades, Curie also became the first woman professor at the University of Paris. Her scientific breakthroughs included the discovery of the elements polonium and radium in 1898 (the former named after her homeland of Poland) as well as the development of radioactive theory (along with the coining of the term radioactive itself).

Judging by the trailer, it looks like the biopic will focus on Curie’s struggle to make her voice heard in a man’s world. It will also feature the ups and downs of her relationships, including her scandalous (at the time) affair with Paul Langevin, her late husband’s former student.

If you want to learn more about Marie and Pierre Curie there are a few books you can read. Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout is available to buy on Amazon or there’s Marie Curie: The Life and Legacy of the Legendary Scientist.

Who is in the cast?

Along with Pike in the main role as Curie, the film also stars Sam Riley (known from films such as Control and Maleficent), who plays Marie Curie’s husband Pierre Curie, a French physicist who shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics with his wife.

Additional cast members in the film include Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) as Marie and Pierre’s daughter Irene Curie, along with Simon Russell Beale (Into the Woods, The Death of Stalin) and Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk) as physicists Gabriel Lippman and Paul Langevin, respectively. Lippman is renowned for pioneering the reproduction of producing colours photographically whilst Langevin had an affair with a widowed Curie in 1910.

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Is there a trailer?

Yes! The trailer was released in February 2020.