In today’s Sam Mendes news that has nothing to do with future James Bond movies, the Oscar-winning director is attached to produce the best-selling novel adaptation Beautiful Ruins for Fox 2000. The bigger news is that the film may be a possible directing vehicle for Mendes, whose last two efforts have been alongside Daniel Craig as 007 in both Skyfall and Spectre. This project would be something else entirely.
As THR reports, Mendes’ involvement invigorates the picture which had been in development at Cross Creek Pictures with Todd Field attached to write and direct as recently as 2013, but that effort stalled out. Now, it looks as if Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, the writing duo behind Transparent, are adapting the film. Scott Rudin is also onboard as a producer alongside Mendes.
As for the source material behind Beautiful Ruins, the best-selling novel from author Jess Walter (who also worked on the screenplay), its story “begins in the spring of 1962 off the Ligurian Sea and centers on three young characters whose orbit around one another is set in motion by an incident involving the international jet-set center, Rome, in the throws of “La Dolce Vita” madness during the shooting of Cleopatra, and continues for decades.” Now while that synopsis is a bit vague, perhaps it would interest you more to know that it follows an American actress who travels to Italy in 1962 during the production of Cleopatra, one of Hollywood’s most expensive flops of all time. Telling a story that covers multiple decades and locations, the narrative crosses paths with Elizabeth Taylor, who starred in Cleopatra, and her love affair with Richard Burton.
A previous stumbling block to the book’s adaptation was the rights issue concerning the film Cleopatra, which was held by Fox. However, part of Fox 2000’s pitch to both Rudin and Mendes was the allowance to use the actual film on screen as part of the story. And with Mendes’ involvement in The Voyeur’s Motel unsure at the moment since the veracity of the Gay Talese nonfiction article in The New Yorker has been called into question by a Washington Post investigation, Fox 2000 could move forward on this one relatively quickly. The only other project on Mendes’ schedule at the moment is a live-action retelling of James and the Giant Peach.