Cinema is a place where coincidence, fate and potentially terrible decisions abound on a daily basis. Try this one on for size. Back in 2001, James Franco played the title role in the TV movie James Dean, making people think that Dean has been resurrected, and soon after took the role of Harry Osborn in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Fast forward 11 years, where Dane DeHaan is filling the young Osborn role in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 next year, and ScreenDaily reports he has now signed on to play James Dean in Life, Anton Corbijn’s biopic about the near-legendary road trip between Dean and photographer Dennis Stock, as printed in Life Magazine. Playing Stock is none other than Robert Pattinson, though I don’t have any coincidences to bring up where his role is concerned. Just a very concerned raised eyebrow.
FilmNation Entertainment will be in Toronto in search of buyers for the script, written by Australian poet and novelist Luke Davies, who adapted his own novel for Neil Armfield’s 2006 romance with Heath Ledger. I’m guessing there’s going to be quite a bit of interest. Or perhaps even more raised eyebrows.
Back in 1955, Stock was a photographer for Magnum, and struck up a friendship with Dean, following him and taking his photographs across the country. This was right before Dean’s stardom took a huge leap with the release of East of Eden, and seven months before his untimely death and subsequent icon status. One of Hollywood’s most memorable actors after all these years, and Dane DeHaan is stepping into that role. I have to keep saying his whole name to try and work my brain around the idea. I’m less familiar with the image and persona of Stock, so my judgment of Pattinson for the part is mostly clouded by a blasé non-appreciation for him in most movies. (Fingers crossed that David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars is outstanding.)
So anyway, Dane DeHaan as James Dean. I hope James Franco plays a gas station attendant along the way. Below are some of the famed photos Stock took of Dean for Life. Now picture DeHaan in Dean’s place. It’s like the worst Magic Eye ever.
And then there’s this prescient shot, which will probably play into the movie with a spooky foreshadowing.
FilmNation is reteaming with their King’s Speech co-producers at See-Saw Films, which could be a good or a bad sign. FilmNation also has Mud and The Skin I Live In behind them, as well as a bunch of lame thrillers. But they’ve been wading in more prestigious waters, with Terrance Malick’s next project down the road. (Along with a couple of thrillers whose lameness is pending.)
A Canadian production is already being planned for February, but don’t forget the James Dean Blu-ray collection is coming out in November. Get on that.