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'Dragon Tattoo' Writer Steve Zaillian Was Considering Directing American 'Red Riding' Remake

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist October 13, 2011 at 3:21AM

Film Will Likely Condense Trilogy, Could Be Set In PennsylvaniaSomewhere near the very top rung of recent crime movies, along with "Zodiac" and "A Prophet," is the "Red Riding" trilogy. Three films, from three different directors, based on David Peace's quartet of crime novels, and starring a who's who of British acting talent including Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall, Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Maxine Peake, Mark Addy, David Morrissey and Peter Mullan, they were originally made for British TV, but were so well received that they rightfully found their way into movie theaters in the U.S.
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Film Will Likely Condense Trilogy, Could Be Set In Pennsylvania



Somewhere near the very top rung of recent crime movies, along with "Zodiac" and "A Prophet," is the "Red Riding" trilogy. Three films, from three different directors, based on David Peace's quartet of crime novels, and starring a who's who of British acting talent including Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall, Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Maxine Peake, Mark Addy, David Morrissey and Peter Mullan, they were originally made for British TV, but were so well received that they rightfully found their way into movie theaters in the U.S.

Around the same time, it was announced that Ridley Scott had optioned the books at Sony for a U.S. remake, something that was rather baffling, considering how closely the material is tied to a particular time and place in British history. Yesterday, we spoke to Andrew Eaton, who was behind the original trilogy, and is also due to produce the new take, as he talked to press at the BFI London Film Festival for "360." He updated us on the remake, and shared some insights into some of the behind-the-scenes talent on the project.

Eaton confirmed the recent news that "Zodiac" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" writer Jamie Vanderbilt is penning the script, telling us, "Steve Zaillian was going to write the script, and got distracted with something else [most likely adapting "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" for David Fincher], so they're now working with a different writer, Jamie Vanderbilt, who's a great person to do it." As for who would sit in the director's chair, it's long been assumed that Scott was eying it to helm, but that's not necessarily the case. "I'm not sure whether Ridley would direct or someone else would," Eaton said. "I think at one point Steve Zaillian was going to direct it."

It's not necessarily surprising that Scott wasn't set to direct, considering the plethora of projects he's involved in (including a "Blade Runner" follow-up announced recently), but the idea that Zaillian, who was originally announced as writing and producing the film, was going to direct is new news. We imagine that, with Vanderbilt on script duties, that ship may have sailed, but it's entirely possible that the "Schindler's List" Oscar-winner may come back to the film down the line.

As for the approach to the film, Eaton confirmed that it would move to the U.S, and most likely be a single film, dropping some aspects of the trilogy. "I imagine they'd take the main story," he said, "and drop one of the books, probably drop '1980' completely, and just focus on the main child-killings storyline. Definitely put it in the States. I think they liked the idea of setting it in an industrial town, or a state like Pennsylvania, with the same backdrop, the decay of the mining industry."

This is mostly good news. The choice of setting suggests that the filmmakers get the spirit of the original at least, and dropping "1980" (the film version of which starred Considine, and was directed by "Man On Wire" helmer James Marsh) makes sense, as it mostly stands apart from the other two films, and, as it involves the investigation into a real-life serial killer The Yorkshire Ripper, it would have been trickier to translate.

Original writer Peace seems relaxed, asking only that Scott and co. don't slavishly copy the original. Eaton said, "When David Peace and I talked about it, when they took the options, he said 'Please don't try and do it here, do your own version, reinvent it.' " So we're more (cautiously) optimistic about the project than we were before, and if "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" delivers at the box office this Christmas, we can certainly see Sony wanting to move forward quite quickly on this, assuming that Vanderbilt manages to crack the adaptation.

This article is related to: Films, Producers, Steve Zaillian, James Vanderbilt, Red Riding, BFI London Film Festival, Andrew Eaton


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