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Oren Moverman Says His Brian Wilson Biopic Script Is Done, Takes "Unconventional Storytelling" Approach

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by Jen Vineyard
February 8, 2012 11:05 AM
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By the time Oren Moverman was releasing "The Messenger," he knew his next film out would be "Rampart" and was on message about that -- but now that "Rampart" is upon us, things are a little less clear for the writer/director, who is still figuring out what's on his slate.

"'Rampart' just happened so quickly, and that's rare," Moverman told The Playlist. "Sometimes things are kind of in place, sometimes you having nothing at all [ready to go]. Life is weird like that."

Moverman has completed scripts for two projects he'll helm: a David O. Selznick biopic for HBO that Ben Stiller will executive produce and a period piece taking place in Galveston, Texas in the early 1900s that Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio will produce called "The Big Blow" (which you can read more about right here).

The director hasn't started thinking about casting for the Selznick project just yet, because he's waiting for the budget to come through. "I don't dare to think like that until I see the green light that says, 'You're making a movie,' " he said. "I don't dare to dream until then. But they like the script, and I'm just waiting to hear." Meanwhile, "The Big Blow" is also waiting for a budget, which will dictate to what scale Moverman call tell the story. "It's a tough movie to make," he said. "It's about racism, there's a hurricane that comes in, there's boxing -- there's just a lot going on. It's really powerful and extreme."

Moverman said he "might" direct "Terrorist Search Engine" about a young, tenacious FBI consultant, but it depends on what producer Scott Rudin thinks of the script, which he's writing now, with Jesse Eisenberg in mind to play Evan Kohlmann. "It's a very complicated script," Moverman said. "Hopefully they'll think of me as a director by the time I'm done with it."

In addition to the above films, Moverman has one more to add to his directorial slate -- he also hopes to reteam with his "Messenger" and "Rampart" star Woody Harrelson in what the actor has teased as a "Manhattan murder mystery." The only problem is that Moverman hasn't quite figured out the story yet.

"I think he jumped the gun a little bit in talking about it!" the director laughed. "As you can tell from Woody, he doesn't filter himself. He's very present in the moment. But there's no script yet. I don't even really know what it is. It's just something that we started talking about, mostly because I want to work in the city I live in, and be home, and New York is such a great town to shoot in. So I want to come up with some kind of murder mystery, and that idea is exciting to us. I have the concept slightly fleshed out, but all I can say is that it will utilize the beauty of Manhattan, and that it's not a Woody Allen remake, because that would be crazy. Once I know more about it, I'll tell you!"

But since Moverman is also in demand as a screenwriter, he has a few other scripts taking up his time, including a Brian Wilson biopic, which he's not attached to direct, and an adaptation of Daniel Mendelsohn's book "The Lost: The Search for Six in Six Million," the latter of which is in "very early stages." The Brian Wilson story, however, he's proud to report is "pretty much done."

"Unlike the Kurt Cobain thing," he said, referencing another biopic project that fell apart, "there is a general feeling that an unconventional storytelling approach is the way to go."

Moverman hopes to place the audience inside the Beach Boy's head, "to understand how do you get into that kind of genius mind that has all this music, but also all this tragedy, so much pain, so many scars." Writing the Bob Dylan story in "I'm Not There" was easier, he said, "because it was the idea of a shape shifter, someone who wouldn't tell you who he was, because he's been so many people in so many different periods." With Wilson, it's more complicated, Moverman said, because of the subject's combination of musical genius and mental illness. "There's all these awful things, and yet what you want to do is celebrate the creative mind and kind of understand it," he said. "He's a genius on the level of some of the greatest musical geniuses ever."

Which project will start shooting first? "I don't know!" he laughed. "It's in the hands of so many other people. A lot of the time, I just wait."

"Rampart" opens in select cities on February 10th.

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