Michael Clear is one of the smartest producers I’ve met in Hollywood, and before he began working alongside James Wan, he was an executive at Scott Stuber‘s Bluegrass Pictures. I remember being in his office one day, and there was a box of books on the floor. He picked one up and handed it to me, and said, “read this. It’s going to be big.” That book was called Bird Box, and his boss Stuber was smart enough to hang on to that project when he left Universal to take the top job at Netflix, which turned it into a true streaming event that was watched by 80 million accounts in its first four weeks.
So you shouldn’t necessarily be surprised when I tell you that Sandra Bullock has signed on to star in her second-straight Netflix movie, one that will have her reciting the words of fellow Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie. Hailing from Graham King‘s GK Films, the long-gestating is an adaptation of the British miniseries Unforgiven, and if it rings a bell, it’s because it was once developed as a starring vehicle for Angelina Jolie.
Nora Fingscheidt, who made her directorial debut with Germany’s current Oscar entrant System Crasher, will direct the untitled feature, which is likely being renamed to avoid confusion with Clint Eastwood‘s Best Picture winner. King will produce alongside Bullock and her Fortis Films banner, as well as Veronica Ferres via Construction Film. Executive producers include Nan Morales, Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright and Colin Vaines.
Suranne Jones played the lead in the miniseries, which was written by Sally Wainwright and directed by David Evans. The new film will find Bullock shedding her America’s Sweetheart image to play Ruth Slater, a woman who’s released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, only to re-enter a society that refuses to forgive her past. Facing severe judgment from the place she once called home, Ruth’s only hope for redemption is finding the estranged younger sister she was forced to leave behind.
That sounds like the kind of juicy role that could offer Bullock the chance to return to the awards race. It would likely arrive in time for next year’s Oscar race, which would be a decade after she won Best Actress for The Blind Side, and seven years since she was last nominated for Gravity. The protagonist seems like a complex character, one darker than those Bullock typically inhabits, and the actress must have approved Fingscheidt herself to put her trust in a rising young filmmaker — something she hasn’t done in a decade.
King recently produced Bohemian Rhapsody in addition to Best Picture winners such as Argo and The Departed. Meanwhile, Ferres runs Construction Film with Frank Buchs, and the company’s credits include Werner Herzog‘s 2016 thriller Salt and Fire, Nicholas Jarecki’s addiction drama Dreamland, and Charles Shyer‘s upcoming remake of The Cakemaker.
And speaking of Netflix, find out what you should bother watching on the streaming service this month by clicking here.