By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 28, 2011 at 4:18AM
David O. Russell Courted To Direct
For a man not exactly lacking in self-confidence, it's odd the way that Will Smith seemed to react to the critical and commercial failure of his last film, 2008's "Seven Pounds." Smith, who, when that film was released was probably the biggest star in the world, hasn't made a film since, instead becoming the megastar equivalent of a pushy stage dad, launching his kids Jaden and Willow into entertainment careers of their own. When he does make his onscreen return, it'll be him going back to the well on a franchise, in next year's "Men in Black 3."
The actor has had plenty of projects percolating: the magic realist drama "The City That Sailed," potentially teaming with Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hanks on "Triple Frontier," a revisionist take on Robin Hood with The Wachowskis and the vampire tale "The Legend of Cain," among many others. Now, there's news of one more potential project, and it's on the more promising side of the spectrum.
Collider found an interview with Paul Tamasy, one of the writers of "The Fighter," on the Movie B.S. podcast, and Tamasy revealed that he and co-writer Eric Johnson have sold a project to Sony and Overbrook, Smith's company, entitled "Joe," which Smith is attached to star in. Like their fellow 'Fighter' writer Scott Silver, who's writing a futuristic take on Samson & Delilah for director Francis Lawrence, the pair are using the Old Testament for inspiration: the project is based on the Biblical tale of Job.
For those heathens amongst us, the Book of Job details what happens when Satan challenges God to remove his protection of a pious man called Job, who then suffers a series of calamities -- his possessions, home and family are all destroyed in a test of his righteousness. Tamasy reveals that the new version involves the titular man, who's living "the American dream. He’s got the nice house, white picket fence, great kids, great wife, nice cars. God and the devil get together every thousand years to bet on a man’s life, and the fate of the world is at stake. What all of us get hit with in a lifetime, this man gets hit with in one week. And it’s about whether or not he can still pick himself up from that and survive it. It’s a dramedy. At it’s heart, it’s a comedy — but it’s got, obviously, a real dramatic core to it."
Explaining as it does why being devoutly religious means you might still have a shitty life, it's remained an eternally popular tale, with "A Serious Man" and "Biutiful" both featuring Job-like protagonists in recent years. Tamasy says that the so-hot-right-now David O. Russell is being courted to direct, as someone who is "brilliant at fusing comedy into dramatic situations," but, as appealing as the idea of a Russell/Smith team up is, Russell has about five dozen different projects listed as his potential next, so don't hold your breath. Tamasy and Johnson are rewriting right now, so it's unclear when it'll go before cameras but obviously, not until Smith finishes work on "MIB 3" which should take him through the summer. Also unclear: whether the rewrite will replace God with Xenu.