Updated: James Franco In Talks To Write & Direct 'As I Lay Dying'; Circling 'Blood Meridian'

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 3, 2011 7:01 AM
12 Comments
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Also Wraps Indie Film 'The Broken Tower'



So we've been spending the morning in a post-New Year's Eve haze, slowly getting back up and running while we wait for the news cycle to once again kick in. And it has. In a huge way.

Showbiz 411 reports that James Franco is eyeing two heavy, literary classics to write and direct. First up, Franco is in talks to bring William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" to the big screen. Franco and his manager are already talking to the Faulkner estate, and Fox Searchlight will back the film should clearances and assurances get made. For those of you that slept through English class, it will be interesting to see how Franco approaches his adaptation as the story utilizes multiple points-of-view and inner voices to tell the story of the Bundren family as they take the matriarch to the town where she wants to be buried. But the other project the multi-tasking talent may end up directing has been one stuck in development hell and been a bit of a holy grail job.

Update: Hmm, maybe not so fast. Our IndieWire comrade Anne Thompson just emailed Scott Rudin about this. In his response (shared with the Playlist, thanks Anne), he severely downplays Friedman's report without exactly denying it (though it sure as hell eludes to the Showbiz 411 report either being inaccurate or pure fiction).

Franco is in the middle of striking a deal with producer Scott Rudin to write and direct Cormac McCarthy's epic and bloody tale of Indian scalp bounty hunters, "Blood Meridian." The film has seen a number of directors circling or expressing interest in the project, including Ridley Scott, John Hillcoat, Michael Haneke and Todd Field (long-linked to the project, we presume he's moved on, but please make a new movie soon) but if all gets signed and sealed, "Blood Meridian" would go in front of cameras in 2012. However, Showbiz 411 also says that "As I Lay Dying" would go "next spring" if everything works out so either Franco is going to shoot two major films in one year (doubtful) or more than likely, whichever one comes together quickest will get his attention.

This news continues a flurry of projects that Franco has been acquiring or looking at with an eye to direct. In 2010 he's picked up “Sal Mineo: A Biography,” “Holy Land” and “The Adderall Diaries" as potential vehicles, while he's apparently wrapped "The Broken Tower," a film based on the life of poet Hart Crane, that was announced early last year.

As for 2011, Franco is a busy, busy man. He’ll be hosting the Oscars with Anne Hathaway (where he’s also likely to be nominated for “127 Hours”), the day after that he’ll be reprising his role on “General Hospital,” he’s currently shootingMaladies,” he’s been linked to the new Noah Baumbach project “While We’re Young” (also being produced by Scot Rudin) and he's set to make his tentpole debut in "Rise Of The Apes." All this on top of taking classes at Yale University and the Rhode Island School of Design. God, we feel like fucking slackers.

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12 Comments

  • babs | January 4, 2011 6:57 AMReply

    this the most fucking hilarious asinine post to ever come from the mouths of the playlist. james franco directs blood meridian. is this an onion article? and it wasn't even posted by gabe toro.

  • Alex | January 4, 2011 12:25 AMReply

    He really bugs me. His face is so damn punchable.

    No you cannot direct Blood Meridian.

  • John | January 3, 2011 11:49 AMReply

    Franco shouldn't be allowed to touch BM until he's been around the bloc a few more times. I mean, let's be real, if it's done right, it's top 5 westerns all time, right?

  • Kevin Jagernauth | January 3, 2011 10:45 AMReply

    Huge difference in co-starring in a tentpole and leading one.

  • A footnote | January 3, 2011 10:44 AMReply

    Sorry to be pernickety, but surely Franco's tentpole debut was Spiderman. And after spidermen 2 and 3, I'd say he's getting on towards being a tentpole veteran at this point.

  • bob | January 3, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    If I was Scott Rudin? Alfonso Cuaron for Blood Meridian.

    Or, I don't know what I'm talking about.

    the judge: Christian Bale.
    Glanton: George Clooney
    Toadvine: Mark Ruffalo.

  • Xian | January 3, 2011 8:38 AMReply

    As much as I like James Franco, I just don't see him getting "Blood Meridian" off the ground. Hillcoat was the best choice thus far... but whoever does McCarthy's classic up, they'd best be prepared for a film that's entirely unfriendly to audiences, bloody and gory as hell and more in the mode of a Terrence Malick visual poem than an action-packed Western where good defeats evil. (Gotta agree with that "Apocalypse Now" statement... that's pretty much the approach to take with this book).

  • Ryan | January 3, 2011 8:32 AMReply

    C'mon if filmmakers like Hillcoat and Haneke can't get Blood Meridian going I doubt Franco will. I agree that the film needs a master's touch, Malick or the Coens perhaps.

  • Christopher Bell | January 3, 2011 8:08 AMReply

    Haven't read Blood but I love As I Lay Dying... don't think it could work as a movie, though if anyone were to take a shot I'd think DGG or Jeff Nichols could do a great job.

  • bob | January 3, 2011 8:04 AMReply

    Kevin, I've seen many of Franco's shorts and docs -- they're quite good and show promise. But this is Blood Meridian. It does not deserve an interesting "choice." It's a $100 million dollar + epic deconstruction of the western myth. It would be the ultimate western and, if done correctly, the Apocalypse Now of today's times. Franco is awesome, don't get me wrong, but this is bull-shit, and the playlist should call it like it is. Just because he's "hot" right now doesn't mean he gets a free pass. Come on. Read Blood Meridian again.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | January 3, 2011 7:55 AMReply

    James Franco has directed numerous shorts, features and a documentary. We presume he knows his way around the camera and he definitely has the sort of personal taste that could bode well. Is he our first choice? No. But it's an interesting one that could work well.

  • bob | January 3, 2011 7:53 AMReply

    This is idiotic. Franco directing Blood Meridian...there's nothing to suggest he could direct something like Blood Meridian. Why don't you agree, playlist? Oh, wait! Franco is just too cool to complain about!

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