There is no end in sight for the McConaissance, it seems. Mattthew McConaughey has been on an incredible roll as of late, between True Detective, winning an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, and now leading a sci-fi epic from one of the most autonomous filmmakers working today with Interstellar. McConaughey recently finished filming Gus Van Sant’s introspective drama The Sea of Trees, but now he’s lining up another big project that sounds mighty fascinating: Free State of Jones. The project has been around for some time now, but director Gary Ross—who has yet to make a follow-up feature after The Hunger Games—is securing financing for the Civil War drama, and McConaughey has entered talks to topline the film as the leader of one of the war’s greatest rebellions. More after the jump.
Per Deadline, McConaughey and Ross are teaming up for Free State of Jones, and the project is gaining interest from new studio STX Entertainment. The project is being touted at the American Film Market, and currently the deal most likely to materialize involves STX financing for up to $20 million and IM Global partnering on foreign sales. The allure of McConaughey has no doubt boosted the project’s profile significantly.
Ross has been passionate about getting Free State of Jones off the ground for years. The film will tell the story of Mississippian Newton Knight, who defected from the Confederate army and banded together with a group of soldiers to create their own state known simply as, “Free State of Jones.” Knight went on to enter into a common-law marriage to a former slave, which was nearly unheard of at the time—especially in the South. Knight fought against the Confederates during the Civil War from within his Free State of Jones, and afterwards freed children who were still being enslaved in a nearby county.
This is certainly a fascinating true story, and one can imagine McConaughey knocking this kind of role out of the park. Ross opted not to direct the Hunger Games follow-up Catching Fire due to the time crunch and has flirted with a number of projects since successfully launching that franchise, including Peter and the Starcatchers and a pair of East of Eden films with Jennifer Lawrence. Should financing come together for Free State of Jones, however, it’s possible the film could be his next.