Oscar-nominated producer Leonardo DiCaprio has tapped Patrick Melrose helmer Edward Berger to direct a film about Volkswagen’s Clean Diesel scandal for Paramount and Appian Way, Collider has exclusively learned.
Emmy-nominated director Berger closed his deal last year, so his attachment is old news in industry circles, but hey, it’s new to the internet! Per Forbes, Oscar winner Charles Randolph (The Big Short) is writing the script, so this is shaping up to quite the prestige project for Paramount, though cameras are still a long ways from rolling.
DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are producing via their Appian Way banner, which teamed with Paramount to acquire Jack Ewing‘s book Faster Higher Farther: The Inside Story of the Volkswagen Scandal back when it was just a four-page proposal that had sold to publisher Norton in a six-figure deal. Faster, Higher, Farther may end up as the title of the film as well.
The scandal had widespread repercussions, including the resignation of Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, who allegedly knew that the company had placed illegal software known as “defeat devices” in their Clean Diesel cars. These devices could reportedly tell when a car was being tested for fuel emissions, and would turn on the emissions controls to cheat the test and meet EPA standards. The resulting fallout sent VW’s stock plunging, with the ultimate cost to the company now estimated to be around $30 billion in repairs, customer reimbursement and fines.
DiCaprio is a longtime environmental activist, so naturally, the story spoke to him and he set out to find the movie in there. As a proud Volkswagen leasee for the last decade-plus, I personally hope this project comes to fruition, as I sure am curious about the details of who knew what and when. Ironically, it was recently reported that Volkswagen beat its 2018 forecasts despite the so-called ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, which was previously examined in the documentary Backfired: When VW Lied to America.
Berger’s directing career has renewed momentum following Showtime’s five-part miniseries Patrick Melrose starring Benedict Cumberbatch, who he’s slated to re-team with on the indie movie Rio (aka Let It Come Down) co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Call Me By Your Name helmer Luca Guadagnino was previously attached to direct that film for Studiocanal. Berger also directed Sundance TV’s Deutschland 83 and multiple episodes of AMC’s The Terror, while his feature credits include the acclaimed 2014 drama Jack, as well as this year’s All My Loving.
Berger is represented by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.