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Gus Van Sant and Tom Hanks Will Tell ‘How Starbucks Saved My Life’

Written by on November 15, 2012 

As we await the release of Gus Van Sant‘s newest drama, Promised Land, big news has already come on his follow-up. (Yes, despite the fact that we’re talking about a guy who doesn’t commit himself too quickly.) It sounds rather nice, too, with Deadline telling us The Weinstein Company have set him and Tom Hanks to direct and lead, respectively, How Starbucks Saved My Life, a project based on the acclaimed memoir by Michael Gates Gill.

The title should have already keyed you in: Starbucks will be pretty happy with this movie’s content. If not? Read a description of the original book below (via Amazon):

“In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a big house in the suburbs, a loving family, and a top job at an ad agency with a six-figure salary. By the time he turned sixty, he had lost everything except his Ivy League education and his sense of entitlement. First, he was downsized at work. Next, an affair ended his twenty-year marriage. Then, he was diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor, prognosis undetermined. Around the same time, his girlfriend gave birth to a son. Gill had no money, no health insurance, and no prospects.

One day as Gill sat in a Manhattan Starbucks with his last affordable luxury—a latté—brooding about his misfortune and quickly dwindling list of options, a 28-year-old Starbucks manager named Crystal Thompson approached him, half joking, to offer him a job. With nothing to lose, he took it, and went from drinking coffee in a Brooks Brothers suit to serving it in a green uniform. For the first time in his life, Gill was a minority–the only older white guy working with a team of young African-Americans. He was forced to acknowledge his ingrained prejudices and admit to himself that, far from being beneath him, his new job was hard. And his younger coworkers, despite having half the education and twice the personal difficulties he’d ever faced, were running circles around him.

The other baristas treated Gill with respect and kindness despite his differences, and he began to feel a new emotion: gratitude. Crossing over the Starbucks bar was the beginning of a dramatic transformation that cracked his world wide open. When all of his defenses and the armor of entitlement had been stripped away, a humbler, happier and gentler man remained. One that everyone, especially Michael’s kids, liked a lot better.”

It’s obvious that Hanks will be playing Michael, both because a) duh, and b) it sounds like a role entirely suited for him. (Maybe a combination of Larry Crowne and Bonfire of the Vanities, but, with Van Sant directing, not as chaotic as that would actually suggest. It couldn’t possibly be.) Not much interest there, per se, except that I’m fascinated to think that this star and filmmaker — two people I’d never have pictured collaborating — will be making anything together. That it’s a drama which is, even in part, about working at Starbucks is only more to ponder.

Polymorphic Pictures will be producing How Starbucks Saved My Life, which does not have a start date at this time.

Do Van Sant and Hanks have something good on their hands?

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