Leonardo DiCaprio and New Regency are moving forward with The Crowded Room, the long-gestating adaptation of Daniel Keyes‘ non-fiction book ‘The Minds of Billy Milligan‘. Published in 1981, Keyes’ book chronicles the real-life experiences of Billy Milligan, man charged with armed robbery and the rape of three women in the late ’70s. Milligan was the first person to successfully use the mental illness as a legal defense and was acquitted of his crimes under the ruling that the crimes were committed by two of his alternate personalities without his knowledge.
The psychological drama has been in development for decades now, and DiCaprio has had his eye on the role since 1997. James Cameron was previously attached to direct the film with John Cusack set to star. Via The Hollywood Reporter, DiCaprio’s Appian Way will produce The Crowded Room with New Regency from a new script penned by Jason Smilovic (Lucky Number Slevin). DiCaprio and New Regency are currently in production together on this year’s Best Director Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s Birdman follow up The Revenant.
Milligan is a fascinating character, and it’s easy to see why DiCaprio has coveted the role for more than a decade. Abused as a child, Milligan was diagnosed with 24 different personalities including Ragen, a Yugoslavian communist who committed robbery, Adalana, a lesbian who took responsibility for the rapes, and Arthur, a proper Englishman. It’s essentially the actor equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.
DiCaprio absolutely has the talent to pull of the role, and it’s probably for the best that the part is only now coming to fruition as DiCaprio has only become a more skilled and nuanced actor over the last 20 years. No doubt, the premise of the project paired with DiCaprio’s involvement will attract an excellent director. I’ve always wanted to see a collaboration between DiCaprio and David Fincher, and this would be a perfect project for it.
Of course, that’s just in my dream world for now. Who would you like to see at the helm of The Crowded Room? Sound off in the comments.