By Edward Davis | The Playlist June 14, 2011 at 12:16PM
Also Circling Disney's 'Maleficient'; Director Confirms He's Been Talking To Angelina Jolie, Plus Robert De Niro For 'The Silver Linings Playbook'
Update: Ahh, so this is the one of the "several projects" that David O. Russell was talking to Angelina Jolie about. According to THR, now that Tim Burton has dropped the project, "The Fighter" filmmaker is one of the director's "circling" the Sleeping Beauty project "Maleficient." Russell never met a meeting he didn't like, so we're sure he's interested, but knowing his creative differences with studios, we would bet this one is not going to stick.
The many things one has to love about colorful, sometime mercurial, director David O. Russell ("The Fighter," "Three Kings") is that not does he not discriminate stylistically (see a body of work that also includes loopy comedies like "I Heart Huckabees" and "Flirting with Disaster"), his is ideologically nonpartisan; meaning: he'll take an indie project, a studio tentpole, a mainstream film, pretty much any film that comes down his way if it interests him, regardless of any "indie-film" baggage.
In a THR piece about why Russell parted ways with Sony on their live-action adaptation of the video game "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" -- we get it already, creative differences -- the 'Fighter' director added one more project to his ever-growing list.
Apparently he's now working with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura on a project called, "[The Mission." "It's very cool," Russell told THR. "It's sort of an action-drama."
The producer of such gems like "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Shooter," di Bonaventura might be slightly below Akiva Goldsman on the scale that judges dumb, bland action pictures (of course they worked hand in hand on 2005's forgettable "Constantine"), but clearly Russell works on whatever project excites him, pre-judgements aside. Update 2: So what's that di Bonaventura about? According to a 2008 Variety article, it's a co-production with Scott Z. Burns who penned Soderbergh's "The Informant!" and the upcoming "Contagion" and is essentially a Colombian hostage action drama.
According to that article, Warner Bros. bought the pitch in '08 and "The film will focus on Operacion Jaque, a five-year plan to locate and rescue three Americans who had been captured in 2003 by Colombian guerilla group FARC. The covert effort involved numerous governments, diplomats and intelligence services and a vast network of spies, military advisers and soldiers plus high-tech surveillance measures." Exciting stuff, but note it's Peter Landesman ("Trade" an "Untitled Deep Throat Project") who penned the script, not Burns.
Meanwhile, so Russell's next project is hopefully The Weinstein Company's long in-development "The Silver Linings Playbook" which will star Mark Wahlberg (the re-team will be their fourth collaboration). But more actors may join the fold. "I was just speaking to Mr. [Robert] De Niro about that today," he revealed. De Niro is, of course, one of the actors that's circle "Drake's Uncharted," so it appears that they at least still want to work together.
There's also been rumors that Angelina Jolie has been in discussions for the female lead, and in a separate interview with Vulture, the filmmaker revealed that he has been in talks with the "Salt" actress. "You know, Angelina would really be awesome," he said. "I think Angelina would love to be in it, but I don't know if that'll happen because of some conflicts in scheduling and other stuff. But I love her and I've loved talking to her about several projects... I think that she's a loaded weapon and ready to be deployed."
So sounds like Jolie and 'Silver Lining's Playbook' may not happen, but there's clearly mutual interest at hand. What about that Buddy Cianci biopic? He's still interested. "That's such an amazing project," he told Vulture. "That guy is such an amazing character — and though that film may be a ways off, I have somebody in mind who I'd like to play him. Guess who is famous who is a youngish movie star who looks a little bit like Buddy Cianci? Good luck! That's a homework assignment for you." We'll leave the guessing to you on that one.
As always, take all Russell projects with a pinch of salt. It's not that he's lying or even exaggerating, but his career path is already littered with a litany of film gigs he was supposed to have directed and many fell through for some reason or another ("The Grackle," "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies," "Aaron & Sarah" and "H-Man Cometh" are just a small example of those that never came to be). For those that are trying to keep score, well, good luck. His current laundry list includes an Untitled Ice Cube project, "Old St. Louis" and "2 Guns" both set as vehicles for Vince Vaugh, a Russ Meyer biopic called, "King Of The Nudies"; the list goes on and on.
Apparently Russell's script for "Uncharted" is being ditched in favor of a rehaul by other writers (probably tells you how out of synch he and Sony were vision-wise). Frankly, we're just glad we can cross one off our to-watch list.