David O. Russell Circling MALEFICENT, Talks About Upcoming Projects and Why He Left UNCHARTED

     June 14, 2011


When a director is coming off an Oscar nomination, or better yet a win, he or she automatically has some clout in choosing his or her next project.  It’s a tough decision, and you may only get once chance, so you best choose wisely. David O. Russell, coming off his Oscar nomination for The Fighter, seems to be circling 1,000 projects at the moment, and another one has just been added to the list.  THR reports that Russell is currently one of the directors being considered to helm Disney’s fantasy flick Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is attached to star, and Tim Burton was previously set to direct before backing out last month.

Disney is looking at a number of directors for the job (Darren Aronofsky and David Yates have been mentioned) and Russell has plenty on his plate already, so this deal is far from a sure thing, but it appears Russell is on the list of candidates.  The Fighter director recently dropped out as director of Uncharted, and today he explained a bit about why he left that project.  Hit the jump to check out what he had to say, which includes updates on a number of his upcoming projects.

Russell had long been attached to direct the adaptation of video game Uncharted: Drakes Fortune. He had Mark Wahlberg poised to star, and was keen on adding Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci to the cast.  However, it appears that his overly ambitious script wasn’t quite to Sony’s liking, as it added a number of characters that don’t even appear in the game.  Speaking to THR, Russell commented on his departure:

“What can I say, I waded into those waters of the tentpole movies, and I wrote what I wanted to write, and I feel like I wrote my vision. And the rest is up to those guys. I can’t pick for those guys. I don’t know what they want to do over there. It’s just a parting of the ways creatively.”

Russell is now hoping that his next film will be his adaptation of the novel The Silver Linings Playbook. Mark Wahlberg is attached to star as Pat Peoples, a former high school history teacher who has just been released from a mental institution and plans on reconciling with his estranged wife.  However, Pat believes he’s only been in the institution for a few months, when actually he’s been inside for several years. We reported that Angelina Jolie had met with Russell about the project, but it could be possible that they were actually meeting about Maleficent given today’s news.  Nevertheless, Russell told THR that he’s been speaking with Robert De Niro about taking a role in the film, which he describes as “a drama with comedy in it,” adding:

“It’s like The Fighter – very emotional, very intense, but also probably more comedy in it. It’s about a family dealing with a lot of issue – stuff I do good, that’s in my wheelhouse.”

Additionally, the director said that he’s just handed in the script for the romantic Western Two Guns, which he says is “really, really good.” Last we heard, Vince Vaughn was set to star. He’s collaborating with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura on an action-drama called The Mission.  Add these to his list of possible projects that also includes a Buddy Cianci biopic, Cocaine Cowboys and a sequel to The Fighter.


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