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Proud Mary

Queens collide in a new historical drama

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Well over four decades after Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson squared off in a 1971 version of the drama, two of Hollywood's hottest young actresses are stepping back in history in "Mary Queen of Scots," a new film about the 16th century royal showdown between England's Queen Elizabeth I and her ambitious cousin, Mary Stuart.

Irish-American Saoirse Ronan, 24, stars as Stuart, the widowed teenage Queen of France who decides to claim her rightful throne as Queen of Scotland.

Australia's Margot Robbie, 28, is almost unrecognizable as flame-haired Elizabeth, whose power struggle with her cousin has dire consequences.

The two young stars were friendly rivals earlier this year at the Academy Awards, where both were in the running for Best Actress. Ronan earned the third Oscar nomination of her short career for her performance in the coming-of-age hit "Lady Bird," while Robbie was nominated for her portrayal of the controversial Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding in "I, Tonya."

"Mary Queen of Scots," directed by British theater artisan Josie Rourke, opens in theaters December 7.

Photo: Focus Features

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