By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 3, 2011 at 2:19AM
Paul Greengrass Circling Other Julian Assange Pic In Development Based On His Forthcoming Memoir
Few real-life figures have gripped the public's imagination in quite the same way in recent years as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the man behind Wikileaks, one of the biggest news stories in years. His Bond-villain look, seeming sociopathic qualities and, um, difficult personal life have ensured that Hollywood has been interested in recent months. Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney is working on a documentary with Universal, while the biography "The Most Dangerous Man in The World" was optioned a few weeks back.
Now, another high profile figure with a background in journalism is entering the Assange movie fray, with news from The Wrap that "The Hurt Locker" writer Mark Boal has teamed with Megan Ellison's Annapurna Productions ("Passion Play") and Management 360 to option "The Boy Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest: Dealing With Assange And The WikiLeaks Secrets," an 8000-word article from this weekend's New York Times Magazine by the paper's executive editor, Bill Keller.
The piece (which is a gripping piece of journalism, and can be read here) tells the behind the scenes story of the Wikileaks scoop, focusing on Assange's relationship with the newspapers, including the Times, UK paper The Guardian and German paper Der Spiegel, who published the Assange's revelations; relationships that started off genial, but became increasingly strained as Assange became increasingly paranoid and egotistical.
Ellison will fully finance the film, and produce alongside Boal, although the latter hasn't yet committed to write the film -- unsurprising, as he's got two films with "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow coming up back-to-back, the still-untitled black ops thriller that'll shoot this summer, and the drug thriller "Triple Frontier," with Tom Hanks.
Still, it's a pretty killer piece of journalism (it sounds like a tighter, "All The President's Men"-style take on the material), and would be tempting for any writer, so it's possible Boal will find time to fit it in, although we imagine that, like "The Social Network," time is very much of the essence on this project, particularly with the rival versions of the story circulating. There's no word on casting yet, but surely Neil Patrick Harris is going to get a phone call any day now...