Scott Cooper Takes Over Director's Chair On 'The Emperor's Children' From Noah Baumbach

by Kevin Jagernauth
October 11, 2011 6:01 AM
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It's coming on two years since Scott Cooper's country music drama "Crazy Heart" got Jeff Bridges an Oscar and launched the director into the stratosphere. He's certainly not been lacking in projects to move to next: he was developing the western crime picture “The Hatfields and the McCoys”; was shortlisted for "Gangster Squad"; signed on to direct a remake of the Argentinian thriller "Carancho"; he's also attached to the Comanche drama "Empire Of The Summer" and this spring, he came on to re-write and direct the Black List-approved "The Low Dweller." Phew. While none of those projects seem to have achieved any forward momentum, Cooper has reportedly latched onto something new, a movie that was brewing for none other than writer/director Noah Baumbach.

First announced way back in the spring of 2010, "The Emperor's Children" had Keira Knightley, Eric Bana and Richard Gere attached to star (with a number of other names tossed around at various points including Michelle Williams) in a Baumbach-penned adaptation of Claire Messud's novel, centering around apprehensive Ivy League grads in Gotham approaching their 30s with trepidation and anxiety. Filming was tentatively planned for next summer, but we had heard financing didn't come through, and Knightley went on to shoot David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" while Gere moved on to the thriller "The Double." That's when news on the project kind of dropped off, but Twitch reports it's now kicking back to life with Scott Cooper to take on the director's chair, working from Baumbach's script (though we're guessing he'll do a rewrite). No word yet on the cast, but we'd guess that not everyone from the previously attached list will be back, and Cooper may have his own ideas about who should play what role. Though note, Twitch mentions Rachel McAdams and Emma Thompson, two actresses who have never been mentioned before in connection to this project, so perhaps they're now on board (Twitch does not mention Bana or Williams).

So why has Baumbach bounced? Apparently, "The Emperor's Children" is now aiming to start rolling in the spring of 2012 and Baumbach will be tied up until then with a mysterious documentary project he's working on with Jake Paltrow ("The Good Night"). He's also still trying to get his next effort, "While We're Young," off the ground. Last we heard on that one -- and it was way back in the spring -- Jesse Eisenberg and Naomi Watts were circling the project, which still has Ben Stiller attached. However, with Eisenberg moving on to Louis Leterrier's "Now You See Me" shortly and with little other confirmation on the cast, Baumbach appears to still have his work cut out for him.

So, we'll see how it goes, but it will be nice to finally see Cooper and/or Baumbach getting on to something new. While 'Children' was thematically right up Baumbach's alley, we'll be curious to watch Cooper's approach to the material.

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