Michael Hazanavicius, Oscar’s reigning Best Director for The Artist, is in talks to direct an adaptation of the nonfiction book In the Garden of Beasts. Tom Hanks is set to star as William Dodd, a professor who becomes America’s ambassador to the Hitler-run Germany just prior to World War II. Hanks is also producing with Gary Goetzman through their Playtone banner, and Deadline hears they are courting Natalie Portman to play William’s daughter. Hazanavicius is reportedly working on a new draft of the script with an unnamed writer that will soon be hired. With this level of talent attached and the awards-friendly subject matter, it should not surprise you to hear that the project is a priority for Universal Pictures co-chairman Donna Langley.
Hit the jump for more on the story by way of the synopsis for Erik Larson‘s book.
The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance–and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition. [Amazon]