John Hillcoat's previously -- and tragically -- fallen Nick Cave-scripted adaptation of Matt Bondurant's depression-era Prohibition drama "The Wettest County In The World" has reportedly been revived through independent financing with lensing now set to begin this upcoming Spring, the same timeframe Hillcoat was set to shoot the original iteration a year earlier.
And, as if that wasn't joyous enough? Much-loved rising British actor Tom Hardy is also set to star as one in a trio of bootlegging brothers along side Shia LaBeouf, who has been attached in the role since early in the project's conception along side the likes of Ryan Gosling, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Dano, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, none of whom are now mentioned.
This makes sense if only because we've been hearing lately that Hillcoat quietly exited what was meant to be his next directorial effort, a police drama called, "Triple Nine," not so coincidentally starring LaBeouf (and possibly Chris Pine).
"The Promised Land," as it was known as at the time, centers on the story of three brothers -- Forrest, Howard and Jack in order of age and toughness -- running a bootlegging gang during Prohibition whose moonshine dynasty in Franklin County, Virginia is threatened by the authorities wanting a cut. Our script review last year called it a "remarkable, vivid and tactile" and added that the tale is told through the eyes of the youngest brother (likely to be played by Labeouf) who "doesn't really have the stomach for violence or taste for madness and drink that his wild older brothers do. In many ways, it's the tale of the younger Bondurant building character and becoming a man, but not necessarily by following in his brother's footsteps."
Don't let the words "Prohibition" and "gang" fool you, though. Similarities between the Bondurants' story and other period pieces like the Martin Scorsese godfathered HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" or Michael Mann's John Dillinger story "Public Enemies" pretty much end with there with "The Promised Land" bypassing the gloss and glamour, instead exploring "shack-living extreme poverty in Virginia and the Bondurants [who] are overall-wearing, Southern hicks." That said, we're sure the successes of the aforementioned projects, particular 'Empire,' had a little to do with this revival.
In the past, Hillcoat had more or less confirmed that Labeouf was attached to star along with Ryan Gosling so it's no surprise that the 'Transformers' actor is still around though the absence of Gosling's name is notable. The actor is slated to shoot George Clooney's political drama "The Ides Of March" also during the spring, a role that would likely to put him out of the running for this though in Hardy, Hillcoat probably has a ready-made replacement sans American accent.
We had hypothesized that Gosling would take the role of the middle brother Howard, described as "a batshit crazy drunk with a feverish, grinning zest for violence and getting into trouble," and by the description we've got fingers crossed it's what Hillcoat has in mind for Hardy. We also guessed that Adams (before she exited) was in line for the role of a red-haired Mennonite girl who served as a love interest for the eldest Bondurant brother, Forrest, who we had Shannon in mind. Other roles of note were two juicy "villains": one an over-eager law enforcer new to town and the other, a rival bootlegger.
Suffice to say, we were indescribably excited for this adaptation last year and were subsequently shattered when Hillcoat announced it's demise. News of it's revival now comes like an early Christmas present so it's major kudos Hillcoat, Cave, the unnamed producers -- described simply as "the producers of 'Jarhead' and 'Girl, Interrupted'" likely making it the original duo of Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher -- and company for pulling through. Of course, this likely leaves projects like the adaptation of Cave's "The Death Of Bunny Munro" with Ray Winstone and the other handful of things Hillcoat has been attached to on the backburner. [24 Frames]