Exclusive: Producer Brian Oliver Talks Steve McQueen Biopic Starring Jeremy Renner and HELLFIRE CLUB; Reveals McQueen Film Will Be 3D

     October 6, 2011

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Back in April, it was announced that actor Jeremy Renner was developing a biopic on “The King of Cool”, actor Steve McQueen. We knew that James Gray (We Own the Night) was writing the script, and commercials director Ivan Zacharias would be making his feature directorial debut, but we haven’t heard much about the project since then. Recently Steve got the chance to speak with producer Brian Oliver (President of Cross Creek Pictures) about his upcoming political drama The Ides of March and he gave an update on the McQueen project. In addition to revealing that the film will most likely be in 3D, Oliver talked about the status of the script, distribution, and Renner’s passion for the pic despite his suddenly very busy schedule.

Oliver also spoke a bit about the Benjamin Franklin film Hellfire Club, which chronicles Franklin’s time in London before the start of the Revolutionary War when he ran around with the fairly deviant group of intellectuals known as the “Hellfire Club” (behavior included sex parties in caves, to give you a bit of an idea). Hit the jump to see what Oliver had to say about both projects.

steve-mcqueen-image-2Regarding the Steve McQueen pic, Oliver revealed that they’re looking to make the film 3D. They’re currently awaiting a screenplay:

“Its status is that James Gray is writing the script right now.  We’ll have a script in the next couple of weeks, probably.  Jeremy Renner is attached to play the lead.  It’s obviously something that’s close to our heart here that we want to do.  We have a bunch of distributors that want to get involved, but we don’t have a script yet.  So we are waiting, but we are eagerly waiting and we are excited.”

jeremy-renner-imageIt’s no secret that Renner is a little busy at the moment. He’s setting up a new Bourne franchise with The Bourne Legacy, he may or may not be taking over Mission: Impossible after Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and he’s also kicking off his Hawkeye thing with Marvel’s The Avengers. That being said, Oliver feels assured by Renner’s passion for the McQueen project:

“He’s obviously one of the hot actors out there right now and he’s having a nice little run.  He’s been nominated two years in a row and he is taking over the Bourne franchise and also over the Mission: Impossible franchise.  But I think that it’s one of those things where if you have a piece of material that an actor really wants to do, they find the time and make it work.  As they become bigger actors, they can obviously control their schedule more and more.  So they can take a little bit more time when the movie is good.  I think that if James turns in a script that Jeremy wants to do, we’ll make it when he wants to do it.  I think there’s a little window that we can probably meet that we have been talking about, but we don’t have a script yet.  So, for right now, it’s still in development.”

Oliver confirmed that there’s a definite angle that they’re taking with the script, but was remiss to reveal just exactly what that angle would be. He did say that it won’t be just “a bio piece and the highlights of his life,” so it sounds like they’ll be making things interesting.

benjamin-franklin-imageThe producer also spoke a bit about another project he has in development called Hellfire Club. It’s the true story of Benjamin Franklin’s exploits in London during his time in England when he was sent to stop the Stamp Act:

“It’s a true story.  Benjamin Franklin was actually the Post Master General of the United States and he was sent to England to stop the stamp act because we all know that’s what started the Revolutionary War.  When he got there he got sidetracked a bit and he started hanging out with the kind of hippies of that generation in London.  There was Sir Francis Dashwood and these blue blooded English guys that were running the government there, and he ended up being in these sex parties in the caves and in all of this craziness that went on.  But there’s a story within that because they then rebelled against the government and they were going to try to take Ben Franklin to trial for treason.  He was able to escape the country and come back to the United States, and then he participated in the war.  It’s kind of crazy that the whole thing is true.  There was a great little article about it in Time Magazine two years ago.  The cover is Ben Franklin and you can read about it.  Ben Franklin is an interesting guy and I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a feature film made already about him.”

It definitely sounds like a salacious project, and one that history buffs would be more than happy to see on the silver screen. If you missed Oliver’s update on Ron Howard’s Formula 1 racing drama Rush, click here. Also be sure to check out Oliver’s updates on the Whitey Bulger gangster film Black Mass here, and comments on the horror drama The Woman in Black as well as Eli Roth’s upcoming projects here.

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