By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com November 17, 2011 at 8:52PM
Natalie Portman Now Linked To Director's 'Gucci' Project
Next year, Ridley Scott's twentieth film as director, "Alien" semi-prequel "Prometheus," will be released. The British helmer will also turn 75, and he has more films in development than most Hollywood studios; the director is attached to everything from political drama "Reykjavik" to board game adaptation "Monopoly" and, only announced a few hours ago, a biopic of turn-of-the-century explorer Gertrude Bell with Angelina Jolie. Just for good measure, another one found its way onto his dance card this evening.
Deadline reports that Scott is attached to direct and produce, as usual through his Scott Free banner, an as yet untitled film that will focus on Simon Mann, a former British army officer-turned-mercenary, who was arrested in Zimbabwe in 2004 with sixty-nine others on the charges that they were plotting a coup d'etat in Equatorial Guinea. Mann (who, fact fans, also played a lead role in Paul Greengrass' magnificent "Bloody Sunday") was convicted, and sentenced to 34 years in prison. He was pardoned on humanitarian grounds in 2009, but not before implicating Mark Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in funding the plot, as well as suggesting that British cabinet ministers had approved the coup.
Mann and his wife Amanda are involved in the deal, having picked former spy Robert Edwards (who's also adapting John Le Carre's "The Night Manager" for Brad Pitt) to write a script, and a deal looks close to be being done at a studio. Furthermore, unlike most of Scott's gestating projects, there's cast involved; Gerard Butler is attached to star as Mann. The actor's making some smarter decisions of late, and teaming with Scott is undeniably a tempting proposition, even if it's vaguely reminiscent of the star's recent flop "Machine Gun Preacher."
The question is: is there any realistic chance that the director will ever get around to this? Realistically, he can't have a huge number of films left, and the next is meant to be a "Blade Runner" prequel, while aside from the projects listed above, there's also a possible "Prometheus" sequel, Soviet-era thriller "Child 44," and fashion drama "Gucci," to which, Deadline revealed, Natalie Portman is now linked. Even if the director has another quarter-century in him, Manoel De Olivera-style, he's never going to get all of these films done, and we can't see this leaping to the front of the queue, however good the material might be.