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Paul Frampton: the movie

By Matin Durrani

Photograph of Paul Frampton

The strange story of physicist Paul Frampton could be made into a film.

The story of Paul Frampton is so incredible that it’s hard to believe it really happened. How could anyone have been so foolish and left his family, colleagues and students in the lurch?

In case you don’t remember, Frampton is the 69-year-old British-born US-based theoretical physicist who in early 2012 travelled to Bolivia expecting to meet a 32-year-old woman he’d struck up a correspondence with on the Internet, who claimed to be the Czech-born lingerie model Denise Milani.

But when he arrived in Bolivia, Milani was nowhere to be seen and Frampton was instead met by a man who asked him to take what was supposedly Milani’s suitcase to Buenos Aires, where she would then meet him.

When Milani didn’t show up at Buenos Aires Airport either – and there has been no suggestion that she knew that her identity was being used – Frampton tried to board a plane back to the US but was arrested after airport-security officials discovered 2 kg of cocaine in his checked luggage. Although he insisted the drugs were not his, Frampton was sentenced in November 2012 to 56 months in jail, despite a campaign by physicists to clear his name.

But now, as if to underline the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction, Frampton’s story could be made into a movie. In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox Searchlight has already asked Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch from the US film-production company Film Rites to produce it.  The company was inspired to act after Frampton’s tale was told in a 5700-word feature published in the New York Times last March, entitled The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble.

Fox Searchlight and the producers are, apparently, already looking for a writer to adapt the story after taking out an option on the New York Times article.

But the question for us is: who could play Frampton? We’re looking for someone who is British and can play a bit of a bumbler. Sadly my first choice – Richard Briers – died earlier this year. Bill Nighy is one option, as is Michael Gambon, even though he’s Irish.

I’m left to conclude that there’s only person with the right track record. He’s British. He’s good at playing bright but love-sick fools. And he’s been in a famous spot of bother himself once before.

Step forward, Hugh Grant.

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  1. M. Asghar

    The case of Paul Frampton may seem to be a strange story for the PW, but not for the LAW for which the ignorance of law is not a valid defence unless one proves that he was taken for ride by somebody. Moreover, at present, to talk about a movie on him here does not make any sense.

    • Stephen Shires

      No sense, unless it was called ‘What a Dick’.

    • Matin Durrani

      We are writing about Paul Frampton because he is a physicist and this is a website about physics. Makes perfect sense to me.

      • M. Asghar

        And trying to choose a person through PW to play his peronnage, is it a part of physics?

  2. Mike Petersen

    There is a weekly TV show in the US called “Locked Up Abroad” that provides outlines of stories of Americans who do the same stupid thing this moron did, and they don’t make movies about them. He may have been a theoretical physicist, but he was a complete moron. Making a movie about him is ridiculous. May he rot in prison.

  3. Trackback: Paul Frampton: The Motion Picture « Mathematical Ramblings

  4. Luis K

    The best choice: Jim Broadbent

  5. Ben

    Based on the above photo I would say Anthony Hopkins is a good likeness. But they’ll probably just give the role to Benedict Cumberbatch in a fat suit…

  6. Trackback: Blog -


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