CULVER CITY, Calif., June 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tom Rothman's TriStar Productions has joined with BBC Films to greenlight The Lady in the Van,Alan Bennett's adaptation of his commercial and critical West End hit , based on his own bestselling memoir . Dame Maggie Smith, the star of the Downton Abbey phenomenon, will reprise one of her most-loved stage roles for the big screen, under the direction of Nicholas Hytner. The film tells the true story of Miss Shepherd, an eccentric woman of uncertain origins, who "temporarily" parked her broken down van in Bennett's London driveway… and proceeded to live there for the next fifteen years. Smith, who will play the singular Miss Shepherd, will be joined by Alex Jennings ( The Queen), who will play both Bennett and, with some movie magic, his alter ego, AB. The film will be Hytner's first directorial outing after ending his massively successful decade at the head of the British National Theatre. He and Bennett previously collaborated on the films of Bennett's The Madness of King George and The History Boys. Damian Jones ( The Iron Lady, Belle) and Kevin Loader ( Venus, In the Loop) will produce, along with Hytner. Miles Ketley and Charles Moore will serve as executive producers. Principal photography begins in October in London, with release anticipated for the second half of 2015. Bennett, a celebrated playwright, screenwriter, actor and author, is considered a national literary treasure in England. Over the course of his more than 50-year career, he has won, or been nominated for, every major writing award that exists in film, television and theatre, including an Academy Award®, multiple BAFTAs, Tonys, and Oliviers.