Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden in upcoming Oliver Stone biopic Snowden (2015).
Director Oliver Stone has presented some pretty controversial biographical films in his career, JFK, Nixon, and W. just to name a few. His latest project, again simply titled Snowden, about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is now filming with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) in the lead role. More specifically, the plot follows Snowden from his time in the US Army in 2004 to his groundbreaking interview in Hong Kong with documentarian Laura Poitras (whose documentary film, Citizenfour, about that very interview, just won an Oscar for Best Documentary), during which he exposed top-secret NSA documents before fleeing to Russia for asylum. The script comes from two primary sources: author Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man and Anatoly Kucherena’s Time of the Octopus (Kucherena is Snowden’s Russian attorney), which were adapted for the film by Stone and screenwriter Kieran Fitzgerald. Included in the supporting cast are actors Shailene Woodley (Divergent, The Fault in our Stars), Scott Eastwood (Texas Chainsaw 3D, Fury), Nicholas Cage (Face-Off, Matchstick Men), Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard, Justified), Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story, Star Trek Into Darkness), and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton, The Exorcism of Emily Rose). The film is scheduled for release Christmas Day 2015. Stay tuned for more news.
William Safire, a Pulitzer Prize winning author who also served as speech writer for President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s, regretfully passed away back in 2009, but he left us some interesting material from that era of history that saw the Civil Rights Movement, anti-Vietnam protests, and the rock-n-roll fueled British Invasion that brought The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to the American counterculture. A speech by Safire was discovered upon his death, entitled “In The Event Of A Moon Disaster,” which was written for President Nixon in the event that the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that took Neil Armstrong to the moon did not go according to plan. Now the screenplay, which was black-listed back in 2011, is being picked up by director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) for a feature-film. Former journalist Mike Jones, who wrote the screenplay, will be working with the director on the film, which they hope to be filming early next year.
Universal Studios has recently acquired a script from up-and-coming screenwriter Gary Spinelli. The studio beat out Sony Pictures for the script at auction for $1 million and now the studio execs are looking to Ron Howard to direct the project. The title comes from Mena, Arkansas, the small town used by pilot Barry Seal to traffic drugs and weapons for both the CIA and the Medeillin drug cartels during the Reagan and H. W. Bush administrations in the 1980s. Howard, who is behind such films as The DaVinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Backdraft, and Cocoon, will be taking on a bit of a challenge for this film. The director is known for his real-life dramas, earning the Best Directing Oscar in 2002 for A Beautiful Mind and a nomination in the same category in 2009 for Frost/Nixon, but unlike the his other historic projects like Frost/Nixon and Apollo 13, Mena follows a darker, more violent character study than Howard’s previous films, which should make seeing how he approaches the new project all the more interesting. The project is still very early in the pre-production stages, but we’ll keep an eye out for more details.
Forrest Gump was first published as a novel in 1986 by author Winston Groom. The book was then adapted into the award winning film by director Robert Zemeckis and actor Tom Hanks in 1994, in what is probably his most famous role to date. The story follows Forrest Gump, a southern man with an IQ of 75, and his lifelong friend Jenny Curran as they live out the course of their lives in the turbulent latter half of twentieth century America. Beginning in the 1950s with Elvis Presley and the early Civil Rights demonstrations, Forrest goes on to play college football, become a war hero in Vietnam, go to China as an international ping-pong player, and run across the United States for 3 years, ending up in the 1980s and the Reagan administration.
The movie costars Gary Sinise, Robin Wright, and Sally Field, and features appearances by some noteworthy historical figures such as JFK, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, Dick Cavett, John Lennon, and Abbey Hoffman thanks to the film’s award winning visual effects. Hanks’ portrayal of the character won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, but his adaptation was much softer than the author originally envisioned. The movie won 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Film Editing and Visual Effects. Since it was first released in 1994 the movie has become a cultural phenomenon and is known as one of Tom Hanks most famous roles. Hanks and Zemeckis reunited for Cast Away in 2000, which also earned Hanks another Oscar nomination. Forrest Gump will turn 20 years old this July, so be sure to celebrate sometime this year.
Oliver Stone has developed a well known reputation as a director who sticks to real-life influence. He has brought such films as The Doors, JFK, Nixon, Platoon, Alexander, and World Trade Center to the big screen, and won the Oscar in 1990 for Best Director for Born On The Fourth Of July. So it’s no surprise that his next project would be a biopic about the late Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., potentially starring Jamie Foxx in the lead role as King. Foxx proved himself an agile and noteworthy actor in 2004 with his portrayal of Ray Charles in the biopic by Taylor Hackford, and with the King family supporting the film (much as Ray Charles and his family was behind the Taylor Hackford project), Stone may get to make his movie sooner than he thought. Several attempts have already been made to get a King biopic underway, including a film from The Bourne Ultimatum and Captain Phillips director Paul Greengrass, but stories and plot lines have been rejected and the King family is clearly more in favor of a film that shines a positive light on the famous figure instead of a script that may be more “honest” in some aspects of his life. I’ve never been a huge fan of Stone’s films, but Foxx would make a good choice to portray King. Forrest Whitacker’s name has also been tossed around, so we’ll see what happens.