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Guillermo Del Toro Wants Benedict Cumberbatch For 'Frankenstein', Charlie Kaufman Writing 'Slaughterhouse-Five'

by Kevin Jagernauth
July 6, 2013 3:34 PM
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Benedict Cumberbatch Frankenstein Guillermo Del Toro Slaughterhouse Five Charlie Kaufman

Okay, so before we dive into this, let's just recap where the forever busy Guillermo del Toro is at right now. He's got his robots vs. monsters thing "Pacific Rim" hitting theaters this Friday, after which he'll work on the TV adaptation of his novel series "The Strain" for FX through until the end of the year. And then he'll kick off 2014 with his next feature film, the gothic horror "Crimson Peak." But as always, del Toro has about a half dozen irons in the fire, and he's already looking to reteam with his "Crimson Peak" star Benedict Cumberbatch on another project.

Speaking with Daily Telegraph (today's print edition, not yet online), the paper reveals "he is hoping to direct Cumberbatch again in a new film version of 'Frankenstein.' " Exciting stuff, but as fans know, the project has been one del Toro has been working on for years in fits and starts. Back in 2009, he was reportedly doing test shooting and had selected Doug Jones (who featured as creatures in "Pan's Labryinth" and the "Hellboy" movies) to play the freakish monster. And it's easy to understand why del Toro wants Cumberbatch.

The actor has already played both the monster and Dr. Victor Frankenstein to great acclaim, starring opposite Jonny Lee Miller in Danny Boyle's very well-received stage version that also screened in select theaters last year. All said, we'll have to see if this actually works out, but it seems del Toro is continuing to tinker with it, though it remains to be seen what Universal will do particularly considering Fox already has their "Frankenstein" starring Daniel Radcliffe already slated for a fall 2014 release.

Another long-gestating Universal project -- part of a four picture deal he signed in 2008 -- is a big screen version of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five." Not much has been heard about this one recently, but del Toro has lined up a helluva writer to take it on. "Charlie [Kaufman] and I talked for about an hour-and-a-half and came up with a perfect way of doing the book," he told the Daily Telegraph. "I love the idea of the Trafalmadorians [the aliens of 'Slaughterhouse-Five'] -- to be 'unstuck in time,' where everything is happening at the same time. And that's what I want to do. It's just a catch-22. The studio will make it when it''s my next movie, but how can I commit to it being my next movie until there's a screenplay? Charlie Kaufman is a very expensive writer!"

"I"ll work it out," he added.

Vonnegut + Kaufman + del Toro? Goddamn. That sounds amazing, but let's not forget, even when all the pieces are seemingly in place, del Toro's initial experience at Universal hasn't exactly been roses. They kiboshed his R-rated "At The Mountains Of Madness." "I'll show you the art and your heart will break," he said of the movie, which he is still trying to seek financing for, along with his developing, darker stop-motion version of "Pinocchio."  

So lot's of stuff on del Toro's plate....and let's not forget a possible "Pacific Rim 2" if it does the business Warner Bros. hope it will do. Which of these projects do you want to see move to the front of del Toro's busy schedule?

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  • Charli | July 9, 2013 1:12 PMReply

    What about Sherlock?

  • Charli | July 9, 2013 12:53 PMReply

    What about Sherlock?

  • Mel | July 9, 2013 9:25 AMReply

    A Charlie Kaufman-scripted "Slaughterhouse-Five" directed by Guillermo del Toro? Seriously, everything else must stop and make this happen.

  • Paolo T. | July 8, 2013 7:28 PMReply

    There is already a beautiful, delicate adaptation of Slaughterhouse Five (by George Roy Hill, with musica by Glenn Gould). It is really a shame it will be reshot as what one can easily imagine to become the typical boom-boom Hollywood movie of nowadays.

  • Jay M. | July 8, 2013 10:15 PM

    Here we have a brilliant screenwriter who has done Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich adapting a book for a director who has done Pan's Labyrinth, Cronos, and a great adaptation of Hellboy. I'm not sure why you're expecting 'the typical boom-boom hollywood movie' from them.

  • Laurence | July 8, 2013 10:11 AMReply

    More Vonnegut adaptations is music to my ears - this sounds much more surefire than James V. Hart's purported work on scripts for The Sirens of Titan and Cat's Cradle.

  • wford | July 7, 2013 4:19 PMReply

    The look of Del Toro film is going to be influenced by the amazing art work of Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein and I'd be very excited to see what Cumberbatch could bring to the project. The stage play was a great experience and Cumberbatch was astonishing but I wouldnt say that the script was top notch. I didnt feel the characters were well drawn on the page. The director relied on the actors skills to make it the huge success it was. I bet Cumberbatch would love a better script to get his teeth into. I'd love Del Toro to cast Cumberbatch in both roles. Its possible technically.

  • MCohen | July 8, 2013 10:55 AM

    Danny Boyle's stage version indeed hugely relied on the actors (mainly the two leads; the supporting had very little to do and some of them didn't perform very well), but theatres are deemed more of the actors' vehicle, although I'd like to see Victor Frankenstein's perspective in the play to be more developed, the focus on The Creature actually provided the actors with the best opportunity to showcase their acting abilities. That being said, I do agree that if Del Toro's script has depth and is character-driven, with a top-notch make-up and special effect team, a film version would be very different from the stage version, and technically it's possible for Cumberbatch to play both Victor Frankenstein and the monster; that would be a great feast, and hopefully can reach the mass audience; although Danny Boyle's stage production has been screened in cinemas in 2011 and 2012 as a part of The National Theatre's live screening program, it's only an art-house movie level of limited releases, and the nature of a movie and a filmed play are tremendously different. A filmed play can never fully reflect the live performances on the stage and a movie would have been shot under the different guideline from the get-go; the theatre performance and the film performance would have been rather different as well.

  • Morgan | July 7, 2013 12:46 PMReply

    I absolutely loved and completely enjoyed watching Cumberbatch's performances in Danny Boyle's Frankenstein. While I would definitely see Del Toro's version of Frankenstein, I would not want to see Benedict in that part again because it is like, "been there done that." I'm sure the role would be different in various ways in comparison to Danny Boyle's Frankenstein/Creature. However, he should keep moving on to continue challenging himself with different roles. He did a great thing in Frankenstein, but repeating that would be like doing another Sherlock Holmes when he's already fantastic in BBC's Sherlock.

  • MCohen | July 8, 2013 11:16 AM

    Actors won't just take one job in a year; even if Cumberbatch takes Del Toro's Frankenstein offer and the project is actually materialized, it won't be the only project he works on; he'll have plenty of chances to challenge himself, not to mention the film performance and the stage performance are fundamentally different. Kenneth Branagh had played Hamlet on the stage (directed by Derek Jacobi) and then he starred in his own film adaptation of Hamlet in 1996; I suppose the challenge is always there.

  • K | July 7, 2013 12:35 PMReply

    I have to agree with "WTF" that it needed to be more straight to the point. This article was all over the place. It felt like I was reading the work of an writer who was off his ADD meds.

  • L | July 7, 2013 12:53 PM

    If he was off his ADD meds there would be no article in the first place.

  • decredico | July 7, 2013 11:39 AMReply

    Sirens of Titan would be a better choice as George Roy Hill already nailed Slughterhouse Five.

  • wtf | July 7, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    can't fucking write an article straight to the point instead of beating around the bush? this is the worse written article I've ever read, who the fuck gave you permission to write on the internet? Try to be clear and concise next time you write. POS.

  • Uh...really? | July 7, 2013 4:21 PM

    THIS is the worst written article you have ever read? The worst one? The author is a POS because you don't like his article? Allow me to offer my critique of your comment in response to your critique of the article. Incomplete sentences. Run on sentences. Random lack of capitalization. Exaggeration and hyperbole. Personal insults. Then, you offer advice on how to write. In conclusion, this is a pretty crappy comment (but not the worst one I have ever read.) I would also suggest that the author of the article NOT look to you for advice on how to write, as it seems to be beyond your grasp. And who exactly did YOU see to get permission to write on the internet?

  • wtf-crybaby farts | July 7, 2013 3:29 PM

    Ah, poor guy. Definitely should complain to management. This has seriously fucked up your day. How horrible for you.

  • Chris | July 7, 2013 5:09 AMReply

    There's already a good Slaughterhouse Five movie.

  • KillerJoe | July 7, 2013 5:07 AMReply

    Slaughterhouse-Five is probably the best novel I have ever read. So, I never dared to watch the film and I'm automatically on the fence for a new adaptation... but, like many commenters before me said, if Kaufman is writing it... SIGN ME UP.
    Coincidentally, I recently rewatched 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' and noticed that the story feels kinda Vonnegut-ian. You know, it's a darkly comic/tragic/absurd life-story, like 'Mother Night', 'Jailbird' and ofcourse 'Slaughterhouse-Five'. So, that's one of the reasons that I think Kaufman could pull it off. Still, this almost seems too good to be true. I would not be suprised if this never came to be. So it goes.

  • Yeahhhhh | July 6, 2013 8:33 PMReply

    Charlie Kaufman Writing Slaughterhouse-Five?

    You had me at "Charlie Kaufman Writing Slaughterhouse-Five"

  • Milano | July 6, 2013 7:44 PMReply

    Unmentioned: "Slaughterhouse-Five" would be a remake of the 1972 George Roy Hill film, adapted by Stephen Geller.

  • jim | July 7, 2013 2:13 PM

    no, it would be a new adaptation of the book.

  • Mirko | July 6, 2013 5:50 PMReply

    You forgot to mention "Beauty and the Beast". He told MTV they're about to cast the Beast!

  • Jess | July 6, 2013 5:14 PMReply

    There's no way either Del Toro or Cumberbatch will have time for this. Cumberbatch especially is getting a new offer every week it seems and probably won't want to play a character he's already done.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | July 6, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Charlie Kaufman is adapting "Slaughterhouse-Five"? Reservation for one, please.

  • Moni | July 6, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    Hmm...Daniel Radcliffe's Frankenstein will be directed by Paul McGuigan, Cumberbatch's Sherlock director. Do people really need to make their career paths so interweaving? LoL!
    Please don't get me wrong, I think Cumberbatch's performances as Victor Frankenstein and particularly his monster (The Creature) were truly spellbinding and his three major UK theatre awards (Evening Standard, Theatre Critic, and Olivier Award Best Actor) were well-deserved, but unless Del Toro has a really unique take on the story, I'd feel another Frankenstein movie is a bit crowded for the market in a short period, but of course, both Del Toro and Cumberbatch have several projects lining up for the coming years, so they might not be able to fit it in their busy schedules any time soon.

  • esther | July 6, 2013 3:51 PMReply

    Cumberbatch was an incredible Creature and Victor Frankenstein in the National Theatre/Danny Boyle's version of Frankenstein. Many fans would dearly love that version to be released on DVD but I;d happily watch a Del Toro Frankenstein too. I loved Cumberbatch's Creature so must admit I'd be a little disappointed if he was only playing Victor. Let him still play both roles with some split screen work.

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