James Mangold has got one of the most interesting resumés of any filmmaker currently working. Firstly, he studied under the legendary Alexander Mackendrick ("The Sweet Smell Of Success") and his filmography is a fascinating potpourri of different genres. He kicked off his career with the stirring, minor key drama "Heavy" (which still needs a decent DVD release) and from there hopped to projects with varying styles including "Girl Interrupted," "Copland," "Identity," and "Walk The Line." This past summer he made his first bonafide tentpole picture, "Knight & Day," with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, which was hampered by some questionable marketing and somewhat diminishing returns.
For his next outing, it looks like Mangold is headed back to some strict genre material, and will next tackle "The Gunslinger," a contemporary western about "an ex-Texas Ranger who sets out to punish the men who killed his brother." The picture has a #9 2009 Blacklist script from newly-in-demand screenwriter John Hlavin ("Donkey Punch," "Underworld 4: New Dawn" and an untitled spec heist film pitch that set off a bidding war earlier this year), and we're hoping he can go above and beyond his previous output, keeping up the director's solid track record.
This one is moving quickly as plans are to get it in front of cameras this spring, so expect casting details to ramp up. We've heard that Josh Brolin is being considered for a possible role, so don't be surprised if that name creeps up.
The project is set up at New Regency who picked it up in turnaround from Warner Bros. Even if we don't like everything he's done, Mangold is certainly one of the more interesting mainstream directors currently working and we're curious to see what drew him to what sounds like a fairly straightforward B-movie. And yeah, if you haven't seen "Heavy" do yourself a favor and track it down. You'll be pleasantly surprised. [THR]