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Johnny Depp Lining Up Producing and Starring Job on Dr. Seuss Biopic; ‘The Thin Man’ Lands Billy Ray As New Writer

Written by on October 7, 2011 

I’ve kept saying over the past few years that Johnny Depp‘s only chance at being a real actor again is to take more dramatic roles — or, ones that don’t involve pirates, Tim Burton, or being a tourist. Then again, when you look at how he treats these movies, such a bad streak may not change anytime soon.

Don’t abandon all hope, though; according to THR, the actor is producing and possibly starring in a biopic of famed children’s author Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. With Keith Bunin writing, Illumination Entertainment (producers of The Lorax) and Infinitum Nihil are producing for Universal — and although the actor is only attached in the same capacity at the moment, the option to star is open. When judging him on the past decade, Depp seems like someone who would take this up for himself. Those of you hoping for something a little more traditional than his recent body of work — heavily involving fantastical elements and things of that nature — may be a little disappointed to hear that the producers are “not ruling out animated bells and whistles.”

This seems to be a biopic through and through, but it’s probably worth noting that those aspects could come into play. So long as they’re unobtrusive, I wouldn’t mind that; a film about the life of a notable, mid-20th century figure can come across as rather stale if not done right, so the occasional embellishment may actually be welcome. And, again, it might also let Depp get back into the world of real performances; that alone would make this worth the effort.

(That same story mentions him as being in Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo, despite previous reports to the contrary after some confusion. If this is true, then good for him. Sincerely.)

Going back to his franchise business, THR is also informing us of Rob Marshall‘s The Thin Man reboot attaining yet another screenwriter. This comes after the departure of both Jerry Stahl and David Koepp — the latter of whom was hired a little over a month ago. Billy Ray is now scripting the film; this is the latest job for him, adding to a pile that already includes a new project for J.J. Abrams, 24, Pan, and The Secret in Their Eyes, he’s rapidly becoming one of the busiest writers in Hollywood.

The reason for this switch is Marshall, whose vision “didn’t line up” with what Koepp had in mind. The director’s plans include taking “story elements from the first two films [and having] a period sensibility that’s similar to Sherlock Holmes,” as well as one or two musical sequences. This might not really be a big deal for the production, but it’s hard to go through writers this quickly and not look a little out of sorts.

Could Johnny Depp pull off Dr. Seuss? Might it allow him to get back into better roles? How do you feel about Billy Ray taking over as the writer of The Thin Man?

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