By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 24, 2011 at 2:10AM
Fans Of Off-Center Close Ups Of Robert Downey Jr Reportedly Disappointed
In terms of catapulting yourself onto the A-list, there are few better ways of doing it than by directing a huge commercial success that's nominated for more Oscars than any other film this year. Two years ago, 38-year-old British director Tom Hooper was, for the most part, a well-regarded TV director; one mostly forgotten feature credit to his name (the South African drama "Red Dust," with Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor), but mostly acclaimed TV dramas like "Longford," "John Adams," "Prime Suspect" and the Helen Mirren vehicle "Elizabeth I," for which he won an Emmy.
2009 saw something of a breakthrough when he helmed the Peter Morgan-penned football biopic "The Damned United." The film performed as well at the U.S. box office as you'd expect a film about 'soccer' in 1970s Yorkshire starring Michael Sheen (i.e. not very well at all) -- though it picked up strong notices -- but clearly "The King's Speech" has seen Hooper go from hotly-tipped newcomer to one of the most fiercely pursued directors in town. It's only a few days since we found news of a prospective next project for Hooper, reteaming with producer and writer of "The King's Speech" on the period adventure "The Lady Who Went Too Far," but 24 Frames has news that not only did Hooper turn down one of the highest profile directorial gigs that's been going in recent months, but he's also been offered another potentially huge project.
Jon Favreau's vacation from the director's chair on "Iron Man 3" (after rumors that he fell out with Marvel on the sequel) left a giant vacancy, one filled a couple of weeks ago, excitingly, by "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" director Shane Black. But as it turns out, Black wasn't Marvel's choice, as a source close to Hooper told 24 Frames that "The King's Speech" helmer was actually offered the gig first, and turned it down.
It's obviously a blow for anyone who wanted to see an entirely extraneous Timothy Spall turn up as Fin Fang Foom, but we're not sure anyone else will be tearing their shirts at this news; Hooper's talented, but doesn't seem to fit the established tone of the series anywhere near as well as Black, and probably wasn't that interested in a big superhero sequel anyway.
Much more up the helmer's alley is the offer he's allegedly considering at the moment: to direct Working Title's big screen version of the long-running stage musical "Les Miserables." The play, based on Victor Hugo's novel, has been running in London's West End for 25 years, and when it closed on Broadway in 2003, it was as the third-longest-running show in history, but somehow it's taken as long as this for a big screen version to make it development.
Working Title's version was announced last summer, and Hooper's name is the first talent of any kind to be attached to the project -- it's unclear if a script has been written, but no writer has been announced thus far. With that in mind, it's unlikely that Hooper will make this his next project -- he'll probably fit in something else before this if he does sign on, whether it's "The Lady Who Went Too Far," or another movie entirely; we're sure that Hooper's waiting for the outcome of the Oscars on Sunday, which may well up his quote even higher, before he decides on anything.