Great casting news to report tonight:
- Forest Whitaker is in talks to play Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, a biopic written and directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) that follows the civil rights icon over his final days in Memphis.
- Melissa Leo is in negotiations to join Denzel Washington and Chloe Grace Moretz in The Equalizer, a feature adaptation of the 1980s television series directed by Antoine Fuqua (Olympus Has Fallen).
- Paul Thomas Anderson cast relative newcomer Katherine Waterston as the female lead in Inherent Vice. Joaquin Phoenix is set to star—Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Martin Short and possibly Sean Penn co-star.
More on each project after the break.
It appears that the Martin Luther King, Jr. drama Memphis isn’t dead after all. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy) wrote the script, which takes place during the final days of Dr. King’s life, and previously set the film up as a directorial project early last year alongside producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, No Country for Old Men), but Universal Pictures abruptly backed out of the pic, forcing Greengrass and Rudin to shelve the project due to a lack of financing. Now it appears that the film is coming back around with a new backer, with Greengrass hoping to make it his next project. Hit the jump for more about the film.
After Universal crushingly declined to move ahead with Paul Greengrass’ Martin Luther King Jr. flick Memphis, it looks like the director will be shelving the project for at least a year, and is now looking at other projects. The Bourne director had been working feverishly on Memphis alongside producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network), in hopes of releasing the film next February in time for MLK weekend. Universal pulled the plug for “scheduling reasons,” though many have said that the MLK estate put pressure on the studio to halt the project.
While most expected Greengrass and Rudin to look elsewhere for Memphis financing, Deadline reports that the director will put the film on hold for at least a year and is now looking at other projects. Chief among Greengrass’ prospects is an adaptation of John D. MacDonald’s novel The Deep Blue Good-By. Hit the jump for more.
Last month, we reported that Paul Greengrass (United 93) had written Memphis, a script that’s centered on the days in Memphis, TN leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was rumored that producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network) was interested in getting the film to Focus Features, Universal’s art house division. However, Deadline makes no mention of Focus Features, which is surprising since this could easily be awards fare and Universal rarely does solo work on serious dramas (although they’ve co-produced plenty of high-brow flicks).
More surprising is that Greengrass is getting back together with Universal. Greengrass was reportedly unhappy with the way they were handling the future of the Bourne franchise and the studio was less than pleased that Green Zone cost a pretty penny and didn’t deliver at the box office. But Greengrass has delivered hits for Universal in the past and he’s one of the best directors working today. It’s not crazy to gamble on him, especially when he’s previously done beautiful work when it comes to films based on historical tragedies. Filming is set to begin in June.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. I know this, because it was my mother’s birthday, and she wondered which nation’s king had just died. Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) is well aware of the date, because it serves as the climax of what looks to be his next film, Memphis.
Greengrass’ script is set in the middle of King’s visit to Memphis to support the strike of the black sanitation workers. King was shot on the balcony of his motel room, which incited riots in dozens of cities nationwide. No formal discussions have begun, but producer Scott Rudin (True Grit) is reportedly interested in setting up Memphis with Greengrass at Focus Features. Memphis is one of three MLK-related films currently in the works that we know about.