By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist July 23, 2012 at 10:23AM
It's well-known now, but there was a definite shift right around the release of Judd Apatow's “Funny People” when everyone suddenly realized Eric Bana had incredible comic chops, even though his native Australian fanbase had known that fact for ages from the actor's sitcom and stand-up career. Sadly, fellow Aussie Russell Crowe has no such hushed comedy background to be discovered, so he's decided lately to grow a sense of humor, first appearing as the villain in RZA's kung-fu film “Man With The Iron Fists,” and now making his own directorial debut with a biopic centered around one of comedy's biggest legends.
Crowe is currently wrapped up in Iceland shooting Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic “Noah,” but afterwards is planning a biopic on comedian Bill Hicks' life for his debut behind the camera. Primarily known for notoriety gained over his signature stage presence and cutting material, Hicks still attracted a massive following that has only grown in size since his death in 1994, and one that Crowe is hoping will show up for his take on the man's life. "Bill Hicks' life is tragically short, but spectacularly interesting," said Mark Staufer, an old schoolmate of Crowe's that penned the script, "The screenplay has gone through a number of drafts and we'll go into production early next year."
When Staufer describes the changes made in pre-production, he's referring to a journey spanning all the way back to 2008, when the script was nothing more than a treatment to which Crowe responded favorably. The actor initially envisioned himself as the lead (which admittedly would make for a fascinating portrayal), but has now apparently has settled for solely the director's duties instead. No follow-up names have been mentioned, but it remains a compelling project for Crowe to tackle, and one that could potentially join the ranks of “Lenny” with an amazing performance for whomever lands the showcase role. [Telegraph]