Screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski first pitched the biopic Big Eyes to their Ed Wood director Tim Burton in August 2010. We haven’t heard much about the project since then, but there was a big development today. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds are now attached to play Margaret and Walter Keane in the indie drama. Walter became famous for paintings featuring saucer-eyed kids, though it was the shy Margaret who really did the work. Margaret eventually tired of the misplaced credit, which led to a divorce and a heated court battle to prove authorship of the paintings.
Alexander and Karaszewski will direct Big Eyes, their fourth biopic script following Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flint, and Man on the Moon. Burton is producing. The trio is also working on a new version of The Addams Family. Filming is scheduled for this spring. Hit the jump for more on the story of the Keanes.
Background pulled from the initial report:
“Walter Keane became a national celebrity and talk show fixture in the 1950s after he pioneered the mass production of prints of big-eyed kids, and used his marketing savvy to sell them cheaply in hardware stores and gas stations across the country. Unfortunately, he claimed to be the artist. That role was played by Margaret, his shy wife. She generated the paintings from their basement and Walter’s contribution was adding his signature to the bottom. The ruse broke up their marriage, and when she tried to make it known that she authored the paintings, they ended up in a court battle after Walter called her crazy. The case culminated in a dramatic courtroom showdown. The judge put up two easels, side by side, and challenged each of them to start painting. He begged off, blaming a shoulder injury, while she dashed off her familiar big-eyed creation.”
Both actors are well cast. Reynolds as the smarmy but likeable husband, Witherspoon as the sympathetic wife. Alexander and Karaszewski rightfully bragged about the deal to Variety:
“We are ecstatic to have this dream cast for our dream project. Walter is a larger-than-life antihero—charming, funny, dangerous, and a little crazy. Ryan will knock it out of the park. As for Reese, she will be perfect as Margaret—soulful, decent, transforming from vulnerability to learning to fight for herself.”