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James Gray & Joaquin Phoenix Reteam For 'Low Life'; Marion Cotillard & Jeremy Renner To Co-Star

by Kevin Jagernauth
June 1, 2011 1:41 AM
12 Comments
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Teaming up on three films -- "The Yards," "We Own The Night" and "Two Lovers" -- there hasn't been any director/actor pairing in recent American cinema as rewarding as that between James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix. However, circa the actor's stunt during the press rounds for "Two Lovers" where he grew a Will Oldham-esque beard and declared he was starting a rap career, many wondered if that relationship was over. And despite what reports may have surfaced, Gray wasn't worried, saying as early as February 2009 that he was confident he would work with Phoenix again. Then in September of last year, it was revealed that he was in on the joke from the beginning. So the joke is over, Joaquin Phoenix needs to get back to work and the duo are pairing up for their fourth film. And they've got some fantastic talent to help them out.

Deadline reports that Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner are all set to star in "Low Life" which sounds as grim as the title suggests. The story centers on "a woman (Cotillard) attempting to immigrate from Poland. Her American dream turns into a nightmare. While sailing to Ellis Island and a new start, her sister grows deathly ill and she is forced to trade sexual favours for medicine and food to keep her sister alive. Once they land, she is warned to keep quiet about what happened. Though she does, she walks away with immigration papers that deem her a woman with bad morals. With no place to go, she falls prey to a charming sleazebag (Phoenix), who persuades her to turn tricks in New York. Renner will play the sleazebag's cousin, a magician who sweeps the young woman off her feet and is her best chance to escape the nightmarish life she has fallen into." While it's not confirmed, it does seem this will be a period piece which is pretty exciting stuff.

In addition to Phoenix, both Cotillard and Renner have come into Gray's orbit recently. Cotillard's partner Guillaume Canet has been co-writing an English language remake of 2008 French film, "Les Liens Du Sang," though word on that project has been quiet since last year. And it was only last month that Renner tapped Gray to write Steve McQueen biopic as a potential star vehicle, though it looks like that one will be a way off just yet.

Of course, everyone is busy -- Phoenix has "The Master," Coitllard with "The Dark Knight Rises" and Renner with "The Bourne Legacy" -- so this will shoot next year. Either way, this is tremendously exciting news. No word yet on the status of the assassin thriller "The Gray Man" the director was attached to earlier in the year. We suppose he could knock it out before moving to "Low Life," but it would need to come together shortly.

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12 Comments

  • mugwort | June 10, 2011 8:07 AMReply

    Seems like director James Gray forgave actor , cohort, Joaquin Phoenix. Either that or he recalled how well they worked together in the other films they teamed up together on. Or he was in on the ISH project. At any rate, glad they're back. Charming sleasebag that phrase sounds like at the very least compliment and an insult simultaneously. Or at least a left handed compliment. With compliments like that who needs to be insulted.?

  • Kent | June 2, 2011 9:37 AMReply

    Er... what about the rewarding partnership between Cronenberg and Mortensen... witness History of Violence, Eastern Promises and the upcoming A Dangeous Method.
    that's recent.

  • Edward Davis | June 1, 2011 12:55 PMReply

    @Darren
    There's a reason why a cast of this caliber wants to work with Gray, even super busy Renner. His films are rather incredible, imbuing tired genres -- the cop ones in "We Own The Night" for example -- with a remarkable and tactile sense of life and intensity.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | June 1, 2011 12:14 PMReply

    Sorry, meant to say *recent* American cinema.

  • Darren Cleason | June 1, 2011 7:32 AMReply

    "Teaming up on three films—“The Yards,” “We Own The Night” and “Two Lovers”—there hasn’t been any director/actor pairing in American cinema as rewarding as that between James Gray and Joaquin Phoenix."
    Really? That's the most rewarding director/actor pairing in all of American cinema? We're just gonna let that go? Okay. Fuck it. Opinions are like assholes, I guess.

  • Bob | June 1, 2011 4:20 AMReply

    Rivals (aka Blood Ties) will be lensing in the first half of next year in US - unless they change their mind.

  • Billyboy | June 1, 2011 4:05 AMReply

    Amazing cast!

    And James Gray is such an underrated filmmaker, its great to have him back with an original story (instead of the adaptation he was working on). Too bad it shoots until next year. Looong wait.

  • Darren Cleason | June 1, 2011 3:42 AMReply

    Okay. I suppose some of the best the "recent" American cinema collaborations would maybe include include Phoenix and Gray. My immediate thoughts jumped to Scorsese and De Niro, Pacino and Lumet, PT Anderson and John C. Reilly and hell, even DiCaprio and Scorsese. I was never a fan of "Two Lovers", so perhaps I'm biased. We're surely just talking opinions and I got a little feisty. Sorry for coming off like an asshole.

  • krue | June 1, 2011 2:54 AMReply

    fuck yes.

  • BradZuhl | June 1, 2011 2:21 AMReply

    Glad to see Phoenix and Gray back together! Gray is one of the best young American filmmakers and seems to always be overlooked.
    And it's a pretty safe bet this will be a period piece, since Ellis Island closed in 1954. I'd guess this would be set in the early 1900's.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | June 1, 2011 2:02 AMReply

    He's been around for a long time and now opportunities are popping up left and right, so he's striking while the iron is hot.

  • Kevin Klawitter | June 1, 2011 1:59 AMReply

    Does Jeremy Renner plan on sleeping any time in the next three years or so? Between "The Avengers", "The Bourne Legacy", "Better Living Through Chemistry", that Steve McQueen biopic he's developing, and this (not to mention having to do publicity for all of them, plus the upcoming "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters", "Ice Age: Continental Drift", and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol") he seems like he could very well end up burning out.

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