Chris Nolan Plans Howard Hughes Biopic After BATMAN 3?

And it looks like Chris Nolan's obsession with making films about obsession is to continue... Almost a decade ago, just after he announced himself on the Hollywood stage with his experimental thriller Memento, Chris Nolan had eyed a biopic of the complex & fascinating 20th century figure of Howard Hughes as a dramatic follow-up. Unfortunately for the Brit director, he wasn't the only one who saw Hughes' life as being ripe for a cinematic translation - the other was the legendary Martin Scorsese - and a pre-production rat race ensued between the two men over who would get their project off the ground first. Scorsese's version was to star his Gangs of New York actor Leonardo DiCaprio and would focus heavily on the early years of Hughes' tumultuous life and finish with his public battle with Congress over the infamous Spruce Goose, foreshadowing a troubled future for it's protagonist. It would be based primarily on Charles Higham€™s biography Howard Hughes: The Secret Life. Nolan's had Jim Carrey in mind for the lead role and would instead re-tell the latter days of Hughes' secretive, OCD-inflicted life and would be an adaptation of Michael Drosnin€™s Citizen Hughes: The Power, the Money and the Madness (first published in 1985). As we all know, Scorsese won the battle and Nolan's movie never saw the light of day - and in 2004 we were served up the Oscar nominated The Aviator and that was that as far as Nolan went, right? Case closed? Well, maybe not. Vulture are running with the exclusive tonight from 'an inside source' claiming that Nolan's next film after The Dark Knight Rises opens in July 2012 will finally be his long awaited Howard Hughes biopic. The movie would shoot late 2012 for a release in 2014, ten years after Scorsese's The Aviator. Naturally, given Nolan's stature at the studio, the film would likely find a home at Warner Bros. Nolan's Hughes biopic would be based on the 3,000 documents that make-up the billionaire's own handwritten memoranda and therefore would cover much of what Scorsese's movie didn't. Vulture say explicitly;
We'll meet the Howard Hughes who spent much of 1948 sitting naked in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel with only a pink dinner napkin covering his genitals as he screened movies from his studio, RKO Pictures, and ran up an $11 million tab; the Hughes who €” obsessed with food safety €” once bought every franchise restaurant chain in his home state of Texas, and who was similarly so concerned about air quality that he installed an aircraft filtration system in his 1954 Chrysler New Yorker, taking up its entire trunk; the Howard Hughes who had his hair cut and nails trimmed only once a year, and who was seemingly as addicted to Baskin Robbins Banana Ripple ice cream as he was to regular codeine injections; the Hughes who at the end of his life considered only Mormons trustworthy enough to be let into his inner circle.
And as The Playlist point out, a recent interview with Nolan that's packaged with the SE Blu-ray/DVD release of Inception indicates that the ideas of what he would have done with a Hughes biopic still reverberate around his head;
€œThe underlying philosophy for me, in terms of the complexity of the film, had always been that those things that had allowed €œMemento€ to succeed with audiences in a very mainstream fashion could be tapped to make a huge-scale movie. And that€™s the premise on which €œInception€€˜s been built. I tried to do it with my Howard Hughes project first. And when that wasn€™t going to fly, I put a lot of that thinking into this; into fusing the scale and entertainment value of a large film with something more - and I really don€™t want to say €œchallenging for an audience€ because I don€™t think it is€”that€™s just a little different and a little bit of a shift.€
From the sounds of things Nolan's obsession with finding a unique way to tell a story informs much of the biopic he is interested in making and we can certainly see why Nolan would be drawn to such a figure. Nolan's whole filmography is built on obsession, whether it being a man who is determined to avenge his murdered wife and uses his memory loss condition to force himself to spend his whole days in pursuit of it, or whether it be two dueling magicians who are obsessed with topping with each other, a man who is obsessed with the dream-state and is haunted by the memory of his wife, or of course the figure of Batman himself - pop culture's biggest obsessive character who dedicates his life completely to an ideal of avenging his murdered parents. Hughes was an obsessive (under-statement of the year) and his condition infamously dictated his life, a compelling one that had incredible up's and down's. You've seen The Aviator, so you know the basis of what I'm talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zikFDK4cuQA So inevitably, despite being two and a half years away from potential filming, the question comes down to who will play Howard Hughes? Of course Nolan's Inception lead Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal in 2004 and has enjoyed playing many characters from this era (he's currently filming a J. Edgar Hoover biopic for Clint Eastwood) and it would be fascinating to see how an actor such as he, who has matured greatly in the decade since, would handle the role now. But would he go back there again, even for Nolan? Inevitably then the mind races to his frequent actor Christian Bale, another obsessive. And maybe Nolan might want to go back to Jim Carrey ten years later? One actor I would love to see take on Hughes and maybe it's a little obvious but hey, Daniel Day-Lewis...
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.