The Last Station, a film by Michael Hoffman,
is due out later this year. The Last Station,
based on Parini's 1990 novel, is a fictional account based on fact, about the last days of Leo Tolstoy, in which the dying Russian author is played by Christopher Plummer. The Oscar-winning Helen Mirren is his tempestuous wife, Countess Sofya Andreyevna.
Filming began this spring at a small railway station near Wittenberg, south of Berlin. The "station" was dressed to resemble Astapovo junction in Russia, where Tolstoy died in 1910, in the stationmaster's house, after fleeing his family and disciples.
It's the first time McAvoy, who plays Tolstoy's shy, virginal amenuensis, Valentin Bulgakov, has starred opposite his wife, the actress Anne-Marie Duff, since they met on the TV series Shameless.
"They have to gear these things to the timing of the Oscar nominations, apparently," says Parini, who is tipping The Last Station
for at least seven nominations. "If we don't get them, I'll eat my hat," he says. And in which categories? For a start, best picture and best director, for Michael Hoffman. (Hoffman's previous movies include Restoration
and One Fine Day
, with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer). He's backing best adapted screenplay, too – another nod to Hoffman, who wrote the screenplay.
Parini, predicts that McAvoy will be up against Plummer for best actor; that Mirren, the descendant of white Russian aristocracy, will be nominated yet again for best actress; and that Duff will be up for best supporting actress – she plays Tolstoy's youngest daughter, Sasha, who acted as a typist and secretary to her father.