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Sam Riley Will Lead Medieval Tale ‘Ivanhoe’ for Director Iain Softley

Written by on July 22, 2012 

While I do think it’s really coming, the “breakout” phase of Sam Riley‘s career has taken a little while to actually commence — a great performance notwithstanding, I’m afraid biopics of Ian Curtis just don’t have the widest appeal — though, for his own good, the right people are taking attention. 2012 alone will bring Walter Salles’ On the Road and (most likely) Neil Jordan‘s Byzantium; plus, in a couple of years, he’ll be seen alongside Angelina Jolie in Maleficent. All are bound to reach a wider audience than Control, Brighton Rock, or that silly 13 Tzameti remake.

Now, ScreenDaily tell us Riley is signed and ready to lead an adaptation of Sir Walter Scott‘s classic novel, Ivanhoe, for which he’ll collaborate with director Iain Softley (K-Pax, Backbeat). Unless they’ve decided to deviate from the esteemed source novel — which, of course, the “esteemed” aspect has me thinking they did not — Ivanhoe will follow Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Riley), a Crusades warrior forced to stake out his own livelihood when put in the middle of a conflict between Prince John and King Richard.

There’s some romance, a paternal conflict, and Robin Hood & his merry men even make an appearance. (Can someone get Russell Crowe on the line?) Good stuff, but I might be happiest to learn that it, like Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master, will be shot on 65mm. Crafted and presented properly, Ivanhoe should be quite the visual treat.

Softley‘s track record has a couple of holes in it (Hackers and The Skeleton Key, for example), though Ivanhoe feels — let me repeat that out of hesitation: feels — like the kind of hard-to-screw-up material that someone with a good eye should be able to make a lively picture out of. I’d think having a great actor as his lead should add something substantial, too.

Is Ivanhoe the good start point for a medieval drama? What are your thoughts on the director and star?

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