Long-time screenwriter and soon-to-be first-time director Akiva Goldsman has offered the leading role in his passion project Winter’s Tale to the hot-then-cold-now-hot-again movie star Colin Farrell. The project is one of fantasy, taking place alternatively in 19th Century and present-day Manhattan, involving a thief who falls for the dying daughter (to be played by Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay) of a rich patriarch who’s house he’s broken in to.
Warner Bros. is producing the project. Farrell did good work for the studio last year in Horrible Bosses, which became a runaway hit. The actor also has the Sony tentpole Total Recall out later this summer. This news comes after reports that Goldsman was screen-testing everyone from Tom Hiddleston to Lily Collins to Benjamin Walker for various roles.
International draws Russell Crowe (who starred in both Goldsman’s script of A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man) and Will Smith (who starred in Goldsman’s scripted I, Robot and I Am Legend) have both agreed to appear in the film as supporting players after Goldsman called in “every favor he had.” These additions largely factored into Warner Bros. involvement, which includes a budget around $75 million [Variety].
If Farrell turns Goldsman down (as he eventually did on another big Warner Bros. project, Arthur and Lancelot, very recently), the writer/director will turn to potential young stars Luke Evans, Garrett Hedlund, Liam Hemsworth, Aaron Johnson and the aforementioned Walker. All of these young bloods have yet to prove themselves financially, despite Hedlund’s leading status in the brand-heavy Tron Legacy and Hemsworth’s Hunger Games cred, but then Farrell’s never proven himself as someone we go to the movies to see. Instead, he’s made himself the rebellious choice, thanks to his inspired turn in In Bruges, which he will try to repeat in Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh‘s follow-up Seven Psychopaths later this year.
Winter’s Tale is based on Mark Helprin‘s 1983 novel of the same name, something Goldsman spent years and years trying to get off the ground. To be sure, the allegories abound frequently in this genre and generation mixing tale, which does not forget to include a flying white horse, for all of those flying horse fans out there.
And I will freely admit, the idea of watching Farrell play an Irish thief who falls in love in a world where horses fly feels like the kind of project that should have launched him to A-list stardom years ago. Better late than never?
Production is planned to begin on October 15th in New York.
Are you a Colin Farrell fan? Do you have the potential to become one?
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