It appears that Fantastic Four filmmaker Josh Trank’s time in director’s jail will be short-lived. Production troubles on the 20th Century Fox superhero film were highly publicized, and Trank laid low for a while after the pic was poorly received by both audiences and critics (he claimed his cut of the film was better, but would never be seen by audiences), but he’s now resurfaced with a project of a very different sort. It was announced over the weekend that Trank wrote and will direct a drama about infamous gangster Al Capone called Fonzo, and none other than Tom Hardy has signed on to star.
Trank only has two films under his belt, the aforementioned Fantastic Four and his breakout debut Chronicle, but both are square in the sci-fi genre. Fonzo marks a definite change in direction, althought this won’t be your typical biopic. The film will pick up with Capone at the age of 47, where following a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots his mind and “his past becomes present as harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life.”
This sounds like an interesting take on the notorious gangster, who rose to prominence during Prohibition as he expanded a bootlegging business in Chicago, forging profitable relationships with city officials that kept him safe from law enforcement as he ran his business by increasingly violent means. This all culminated in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, in which Capone’s organization planned the murder of seven rival gang members in broad daylight, resulting in the public putting pressure on the city of Chicago to finally crack down on Capone.
Capone became increasingly debilitated by syphilitic dementia after his eventual release from prison, and indeed he died at the age of 48, so if Fonzo is picking up with Capone when he’s 47, one imagines we’re in for a film about the gangster’s final months.
It’s hard to think of anyone better than Hardy to play Al Capone. The actor is just coming off an Oscar nomination for his work in The Revenant and a stellar lead turn in Mad Max: Fury Road, but he’s proven to be something of a chameleon-like performer. Most recently, Hardy’s been shooting the FX series Taboo, which he created and co-wrote with his father. He also has a role in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming World War II actioner Dunkirk.
Trank, meanwhile, was poised to direct an unspecified Star Wars anthology film, but left the project and/or was fired in the midst of the hubbub surrounding the difficulties on Fantastic Four. He’s landed on his feet rather quickly, though, proving once more that if you’re a white dude in Hollywood who makes an expensive flop, odds are you’ll get at least one more shot before getting the permanent boot.
Fonzo is currently in pre-production and as-yet doesn’t have a filming start date, but this is a curious development to be sure, and I’ll be interested to see how the film comes together. The project isn’t yet set up at a studio, but Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder (Tau) are producing for Addictive Pictures alongside Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction).