As a director, Warren Beatty isn’t what one would call prolific, but his prolonged insistence in making a Howard Hughes biopic fits that definition well. And not only does his still-untitled project have a small amount of footage already shot, but it’s now kicking into full production mode, thanks to the financial graces of billionaires Ronald Burkle and Steve Bing, Windsor Media, New Regency and RatPac Entertainment, who all chipped in on the film’s $26.7 million projected budget. It takes a billionaire to tell the story of one, I guess.

Many years ago when Beatty first outlined this concept, it was a comedy where he was set to play the reclusive aviator and inventor during an affair with a younger woman, and this was still the case three years ago when it looked like he’d have the project underway. (It’s worth noting that he wanted the now non-famous Shia LaBeouf for a part.) But Deadline reports the narrative will now shift to the romantic story of his assistant, played by Beautiful Creatures’ Aiden Ehrenreich, and his equally young lover, The Mortal Instruments star Lily Collins.

Collins and Ehrenreich aren’t exactly the big names Beatty sought after, but he does have a few casting surprises in store, and wife Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick are on board in undetermined roles. Will Jack Nicholson show up? Will Al Pacino pop in as Big Boy Caprice? Maybe Halle Berry will step in as one of his many former lovers.

This is Beatty’s first film since 1998’s satirical political comedy Bulworth, the script for which earned Beatty yet another Academy Award nomination. While I don’t think anyone expects for this film to come close to topping Martin Scorsese’s all-encompassing 2004 biopic The Aviator, which earned over $210 million worldwide and won five of its eleven Oscar nominations, let’s not forget that each of Beatty’s films have earned multi-nominations, with him taking home the Best Director trophy for his work on 1981’s Reds. It’s possible a 16-year hiatus could have taken some of the shine off of his creative gusto, but somehow I doubt it.

So with the film now in production, it’s possible we could see it by the end of the year, just in time for the 2015 awards season. Or perhaps he’ll hold it off until next year. Or perhaps we’re all trapped inside a fever dream of the real Howard Hughes, who is still alive in a dark room somewhere. Anything can happen, like a politician being honest. Experience that reality with the Bulworth trailer below.

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