A Quiet Place Star Millicent Simmonds to Play Helen Keller in Upcoming Film

Millicent Simmonds will star alongside Rachel Brosnahan in Helen & Teacher, a film about Helen Keller's time at Harvard's Radcliffe College

Millicent Simmonds; Helen Adams Keller
Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images; Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Millicent Simmonds is taking on a key historical figure for her latest role.

The Quiet Place actress, 18, is set to play activist Helen Keller in Helen & Teacher, an upcoming film about Keller's relationship with Anne Sullivan, her translator and companion, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan will play Sullivan, per THR.

Simmonds, who is deaf, is distant cousins with Keller, according to the outlet.

Helen & Teacher is set in the early 1900's, during Keller's "tumultuous time at Radcliffe College of Harvard University when her rapidly expanding worldview and sexual awakening brings her into direct conflict with the more conservative Sullivan," according to a synopsis of the film, per Deadline. "When Ms. Sullivan is courted by the young and brilliant publisher, John Macy, tensions escalate between the two women threatening the bonds of their friendship."

The biopic comes from director Wash Westmoreland, who has directed films like Still Alice and Colette. In a statement, Westmoreland said Helen & Teacher shows a new side of the disability rights advocate not widely known to the public.

"Most people only know of Helen Keller's story from when she was a child. Helen & Teacher will look at her as a young adult when she developed a radical, world-changing political voice," he said. "Today, when some TikTok threads dispute Helen Keller's achievements and even her existence, it is time for a film that shows her relevance, her brilliance and her unbreakable spirit."

Millicent Simmonds
Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Simmonds booked her first major role in Wonderstruck, which she starred in alongside Julianne Moore. Since then, she's gone on to appear in the John Krasinski horror film A Quiet Place and its sequel, A Quiet Place Part II. Her credits also include Andi Mack, This Close and Close Up.

The actress told PEOPLE in 2017 that she hopes more deaf people "have the opportunity to become actors" in the future, and opened up about her own unexpected entry into the industry.

"I never thought about becoming a professional actress. I thought I was going to be a cop or a fireman, something that involved danger," she said at the time. "But I was always comedic and would tell stories and use a lot of expressions. My high school drama teacher recognized that I had talent and asked permission from my mom so that I could join the drama club. I was in several school performances, mainly Shakespeare and comedic roles. I just accidentally became an actor. I totally didn't expect this."

Helen & Teacher comes from a screenplay by Laetitia Mikles and Westmoreland, who consulted with the Helen Keller National Center for Youth and Adults. Principal photography on the film will begin next year, and a premiere date has not yet been set.

Related Articles