For a man with two Palme d'Ors and a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, we don't hear much from Danish filmmaker Bille August these days. The "Pelle the Conqueror" director has only made two films in the last decade, potboiler thriller "Return to Sender," with Aidan Quinn, which we had no idea existed, and Nelson Mandela biopic "Goodbye Bafana," which similarly disappeared without a trace. But he's got a Danish picture "The Passion of Marie" coming next year, and his name still clearly holds enough sway to get an impressive cast for his film after that.
Screen Daily reports that August is currently prepping "Night Train to Lisbon," an adaptation of the best-selling thriller by Pascal Mercier, and he's assembled an all-star international group of actors for the project. Jeremy Irons takes the lead, a Swiss professor who becomes obsessed with a mysterious book that sends him off on a journey to the Portugese city of the title, and joining him are Vanessa Redgrave, Bruno Ganz, Mélanie Laurent, Christopher Lee and Lena Olin
Based on the best-selling book by Pascal Mercier, the story follows a Swiss professor who saves a beautiful Portuguese woman from leaping to her death, only to come across a mesmerizing book by a Portuguese author that compels him to leave his boring life and embark on an adventure in search of the scribe. Here's the Amazon synopsis:
In Swiss novelist Mercier's U.S. debut, Raimund Gregorius is a gifted but dull 57-year-old high school classical languages teacher in Switzerland. After a chance meeting with a Portuguese woman in the rain, he discovers the work of a Portuguese poet and doctor, Amadeu de Prado, persecuted under Salazar's regime. Transfixed by the work, Gregorius boards a train for Lisbon, bent on discovering Prado's fate and on uncovering more of his work. He returns to the sites of Prado's life and interviews the major players—Prado's sisters, lovers, fellow resistors and estranged best friend—and begins to lose himself. The artful unspooling of Prado's fraught life is richly detailed: full of surprises and paradoxes, it incorporates a vivid rendering of the Portuguese resistance to Salazar.
Martina Gedeck ("The Lives of Others"), Jack Huston (the half-face dude in "Boardwalk Empire"), August Diehll ("Inglourious Basterds"), and Portugese actors Nicolau Breyner, Adriano Luz, Jose Wallenstein and Beatriz Batarda round out the cast. It's a very exciting collection of talent, and we hope it signifies good things about the script, and a possible return to form for August. The film, a U.S.-Swiss-German co-production, is set to shoot in March next year, so we likely won't see it until sometime in 2013.