Ridley Scott Wants Natalie Portman for His Next Picture, A High-Profile Kidnapping Drama

Ridley Scott‘s current directorial effort Alien: Covenant rolls out May 19th, but what’s the Oscar-nominated director got planned for the near future? Well there’s the announced TV series The Hot Zone that focuses on the Ebola epidemic, the adaptation of Don Winslow‘s bestseller The Cartel, and of course there’s always another Alien picture waiting in the wings. But it sounds like his next big-screen venture will be something else entirely.

Deadline reports that Scott is lining up David Scarpa‘s Black List script, All the Money in the World, a drama based on the real-life kidnapping and ransom of John Paul Getty III, the grandson of oil tycoon John Paul Getty. One of the richest men in the world at the time, the Getty Family patriarch at first refused to pay the ransom, despite attempts by the boy’s mother, Abigail Harris. Scott is looking to Natalie Portman to play that role, with Oscar-winner Jack Nicholson hoped to play the senior oil tycoon.

Image via Entertainment Weekly/Pablo Larrain

Set in Italy, where the real-life drama played out, this “wealth as a curse” story follows the 1973 kidnapping of Getty III. At 16 years old, Getty III was a boarding school student who frequented nightclubs, lived a bohemian lifestyle, and followed a left wing lifestyle. He was known to joke about faking his own kidnapping, so that when he didn’t return home one night and a ransom asking for $17 million for his return showed up in his place, he severity of the situation was initially suspect. That perception changed fairly quickly once the teenager’s lock of hair and right ear showed up in an envelope.

Complicating the ordeal was the fact that Abigail Harris had previously divorced Getty’s son and refused a substantial financial offer, raising her children as she saw fit. So when she came back with word of the ransom, their conversations were understandably tense. Portman would play the part of Harris, who was eventually able to wrangle some money out of the elder Getty, but only as much as was able to be deducted as a tax write-off in the amount far short of the ransom’s demand.

Apparently, Angelina Jolie turned down an offer for the part due to scheduling conflicts, so enter Oscar-winner Portman. Deadline’s sources say the match looks good, but they aren’t so bullish on Nicholson; they expect a big name actor to get the part regardless. Production on Imperative Entertainment’s picture will start in Italy in May; Sony’s Tom Rothman secured worldwide distribution rights.

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