Coming off an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay—not to mention glowing reviews and swell box office—for Logan, filmmaker James Mangold is understandably in demand for his next project. The director had intended to move right into a Patty Hearst biopic, but 20th Century Fox scuttled that project in January after Hearst herself put out a statement blasting the source material. In a matter of weeks, however, the Walk the Line filmmaker lined up a Ford vs. Ferrari movie at the same studio, which would chronicle the race for dominance between the two motor companies at the 1966 Le Mans World Championship. It was unclear what would be Mangold’s next project, but two major A-listers are circling the lead roles in that untitled Ford vs. Ferrari movie.
Buried in a story about a different Mangold project, Deadline notes that Matt Damon is circling to play Mustang designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale is eyeing the role of his driver, Ken Miles, both of whom were under orders from Henry Ford II to build the world’s fastest car. Neither actor has a deal in place and this was given a mere passing mention in the Deadline story, but the prospect of these two actors teaming up for a James Mangold project is certainly enticing.
Bale was actually in line to lead Mangold’s adaptation of The Deep Blue Good-Bye a few years back, but just before filming began he injured his leg and the project was scrapped. The actor most recently wrapped a role as Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s upcoming drama Backseat, while Damon has yet to choose a next project. The actor took some time off after making Jason Bourne, The Great Wall, Downsizing, and Suburbicon in quick succession, but this project could be next in line for him.
However, there’s another project vying for Mangold’s attention. The Cop Land filmmaker has been attached to direct an adaptation of Don Winslow’s novel The Force for a bit now, and the aforementioned Deadline story reveals that Mangold is bringing in his Logan co-writer Scott Frank to rewrite the script. The previous draft was by David Mamet, but Frank—who created and wrote the Netflix Western series Godless—is known as a famous “closer” in Hollywood. He’s someone who can get a script in shape for production, so it’s possible The Force could be Mangold’s next project if the Ford vs. Ferrari movie hits a snag.
The Force is a police corruption drama, and what’s likely here is that Mangold is actively developing both of these projects and whichever one gets the greenlight first will be his next film. The guy’s a versatile filmmaker so he could just as easily move into a period drama about car racing as he could into a gritty cop drama, but given the cast potential of the Ford vs. Ferrari project I’m pulling for that one. We shall see.