Exclusive: Sometimes an IMDB page needs a little bit of cleaning. If you're filmmaker David O. Russell, it needs constant care and pruning. Perhaps more than any other working director out there -- save possibly Ridley Scott who attaches himself to projects like you and I change underwear -- "The Fighter" director has been attached to around a dozen projects since circa 2006. "The Grackle," starring Matthew McConaghey, "H-Man Cometh," the rom-com "Aaron and Sarah" and "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies" are just four of many that are no longer happening.
Playlist scribe Leah Zak spoke to Russell ever so briefly on the red carpet of the ACE Eddie Awards over the weekend and asked him which project exactly was coming next. The answer yielded updates on a few projects on the helmer's very crowded slate. Gamers take note: Russell isn't still quite sure if "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" starring Mark Wahlberg is next, but he still seems to have a myriad of options at his finger tips, plus he revealed an old Wahlberg project he may be taking over.
"I'm working on Drake's Fortune right now," Russell told us on the weekend. "I'm really digging it, I think the story's coming together in a really intense cool way, and I also have a project with the Weinsteins called 'The Silver Linings Playbook' and I might also work on something at Universal called 'Two Guns' so those are the things I'm looking at right now, I might also do something called 'Cocaine Cowboys' with Mark Wahlberg so there's lots of things we're looking at." While the former couple of projects have knocking around for a while now, the latter is something we've haven't heard Russell's name linked to until now.
Based on Billy Corben's 2006 documentary of the same name, "Cocaine Cowboys" centers on notorious '70s drug dealer Jon Roberts who moved from New York, where he was involved in gangland takeovers of the city's nightclubs, to Miami where he was set up with a powerful drug cartel. 'Cowboys' was previously a project that Leonardo DiCaprio and director Peter Berg had been attached to, and Wahlberg began circling in 2008. He confirmed his interest once again last summer, but it didn't sound as if the project had moved forward at all. However, speaking with Sgt. Film last fall, Wahlberg revealed that there was some new life in project.
"We’ve the rights of those guys, Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday, and set it at Paramount as well. Evan Wright did a pass on the script and will have somebody else doing another. There are a couple other things we want to put together. It’s nice not waiting around for somebody to offer you a part that might further your career, give you an opportunity to do something great. You’ve got to get out there and create those opportunities for yourself," Walhberg said. Could that "somebody else" have been David O. Russell? We'd guess that answer is yes.
Perhaps now that Wahlberg and Russell are total BFFs (if they do "Uncharted" together, it will mark their fourth collaboration) and Wahlberg is the only star attached, perhaps he's trying to get it off the ground once more -- and just like "The Fighter" -- trying to entice his directorial pal to take the reigns to push things forward. It's a smart ploy and clearly, Wahlberg and Russell are kindred spirits who are at ease working together and know the sensibilities they can each bring to the table, but we'll have to see what ultimately takes the pole position.
But that's not all. Speaking recently with /Film, Russell gave updates on a couple of other projects, some of which seem to have been already usurped. The long gestating "The Grackle," written by "Bad Santa" writers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, that at one time had Matthew McConaughey attached, was almost set to get made before it got trumped by "The Fighter."
"I was talking about making that and getting them to do a draft when my dear friend Mark Wahlberg came to me with 'The Fighter.' So as much as I thought that was really a funny project, if I have to pick between someone who’s a little like a brother to me and that other project I’m going to have to go with 'The Fighter.' Those guys wrote me, Requa and Ficarra, and they said, 'Gee, now you’re really sorry you didn’t make 'The Grackle' aren’t you?' They meant it as a joke. [laughs]."
As for the road trip, "Paper Moon" inspired comedy "Old St. Louis" that was gearing up last fall with Vince Vaughn attached, again, timing played a factor in that project not getting made though it's still a possibility.
"That was a really good project that I re-wrote for Vince kind of in the vein of 'Paper Moon.' I thought I’d be making that this autumn but it’s really not up to me a lot of times. In that case a lot of it was up to Vince who decided to make the Ron Howard project instead, because we were supposed to making that, and he went off to make 'The Dilemma' with Kevin James and that’s what happened with that. So, you know –- there’s still talk about making that project and we may still make it when the timing’s right. That happens all the time in this business."
Speaking of his IMDB, there's also "Sammy Hill" another political rom-com written by Kristin Gore who penned the political rom-com, "Nailed," that Russell directed, but then disavowed credit-wise when it was exhumed from the dead. There's the Jim Carrey cover band comedy, "Under Cover," but we assume he's moved on from both by now given his hectic sched. What is still probably in the hamper somewhere is an also a "Dirty Harry-like Untitled Ice Cube Russell project.
So, lots happening for David O. Russell but for now, we figure he's keeping his sights firmly set on this weekend where he may walk away with the biggest honor of his career yet: a Best Director Oscar. And you can be assured, as far a bet as it is, if he does miraculously win, there were will be a whole new set of projects coming his way.