For better or worse, some projects just refuse to be forgotten. After years in hibernation, the Warner Bros. adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ novel/memoir Shantaram is finally back on track. According to Deadline, The Great Gatsby star Joel Edgerton is in talks to take on the lead role of Lin Ford, making it one of about a thousand potential roles we may see the actor take in the near future.
The film will be produced by Infinitum Nihil, the company founded by Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski, and Graham King. Depp has been attached to this project for ages. Back in 2004, Warner dropped $2 million for the rights to the book and Depp was on board to star with Peter Weir to direct. But then Weir a href=http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Weir-Wanders-Off-Shantaram-2812.html>dropped out and the Writers’ Strike hit, and the film was abandoned for a while. It was actually Depp himself who got the ball rolling again, personally calling for Edgerton to take the part. We are thanking our lucky stars here at CinemaBlend that Depp isn’t trying to force himself into this movie, as he was the wrong choice to begin with.
The book follows the globe-trotting exploits of its Australian main character, who was closely modeled after the author, whose tumultuous life serves as the narrative. As an Australian native himself, Edgerton already has a leg up. (Not that Hollywood hasn't cast Australians in every possible role for decades now.)
A heroin addict, Roberts was arrested after a series of extremely polite armed robberies and was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison. He managed to escape and fled the country, changing his name and eventually making his home in Mumbai, which was supposed to be a stopgap on his way to Germany. While there, he got heavily involved with the locals, and lived as a guide, as an amateur physician during an outbreak and as a trader, among other things, before eventually landing back in prison. He is eventually released and works the black market for a while before teaming up with freedom fighters in Afghanistan. This guy is kind of a legend, and this could be a really amazing project, like a Bourne flick without all the espionage and close-up combat.
The screenplay was written by Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for adapting Winston Groom’s Forest Gump for Robert Zemeckis, and was nominated for scripts for The Insider, Munich and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Edgerton will be seen later this year in the Matthew Seville’s thriller Felony with Tom Wilkinson, and recently finished with the hectic production on Gavin O’Connor’s Jane Got a Gun. He’s got a big year ahead, set to star in Ridley Scott’s historical epic Exodus, Barry Levinson’s Whitey Bulger crime drama Black Mass, and Joshua Marston’s thriller The Double Hour.
Warner will now begin the hunt for someone to direct Shantaram. I don’t think Peter Weir is busy…