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Tom Hanks, Oscar-winning star of Saving Private Ryan and producer behind Band of Brothers, hopes to be heading back to war for an adaptation of Erik Larson’s non-fiction best-seller In the Garden of Beasts.

Universal has optioned the rights to Larson’s story for Hanks and his producing shingle, Playtone, and will position it as a vehicle for the leading man, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Hanks would play William Dodd, America’s ambassador to Berlin in the early 1930s who gradually realized the atrocities that were being conducted around him as World War II escalated. Adding to the mix, according to the trade, is Dodd’s daughter Martha, who was romantically involved with Gestapo officials and even dated a Societ spy, no doubt complicating matters for Dodd.

The scenario appears to create a lot of gray area in which Hanks, an immensely talented actor who’s rarely tested, can explore. The actor’s an obvious student of history, and shows an overwhelming fascination in WWII. This passion can only help Beasts as it works its way to the screen.

Now we’re left to wonder if Hanks can lure his Band of Brothers collaborator Steven Spielberg back over to Universal – where he create so many masterpieces – for yet another WWII drama. If that would be the case, it might put Beasts on a temporary backburner, as Spielberg’s busy shooting Lincoln. But wouldn’t it be worth the wait? So long as Hanks doesn’t try to direct it himself, for as much as I love That Thing You Do!, I don’t think any of us can risk seeing Larry Crowne behind enemy lines.
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