After thirteen years away from directing, the legendary Warren Beatty is right now moving fast on a high-profile return to Hollywood. The subject of his comeback; the fascinating life of the famous 20th century recluse Howard Hughes with a film the 74 year old would write, direct and star as the billionaire weirdo. Nothing absolutely concrete is yet known about Beatty's approach to the film except that it's said 'not really to be a biopic' (whatever that means) but it is rumoured that part of the plot involves an affair had with a young woman in the later years of his life and not unlike the Martin Scorsese movie The Aviator, it will depict two different periods of the eccentric figure's history. If you haven't seen the movie there is a brand new Blu-ray out today which can bring you up to speed. Beatty has been wanting to make the movie for as long as I have been alive (25 years) and at one point was going in a comedy-drama direction (that still seems to be the plan). His film was halted when Scorsese's 2004 Oscar nominated biopic of Hughes came out. Now with seven years having passed since The Aviator's release and perhaps because we got wind earlier this year that Chris Nolan was planning to finally move forward with his own Howard Hughes movie once The Dark Knight Rises is complete and that was similarly also a project that was halted by Scorsese's film (Nolan's was to star Jim Carrey back in the day) - Beatty is desperate to beat Nolan out of the gate. The film is moving rapidly towards production. Recently announced as a Paramount Pictures project with much enthusiasm by studio chief Brad Grey, the news today is that Beatty's film has actually ended up at New Regency, a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, the studio that made his last directorial effort Bulworth in 1998. With Beatty to do the directing duties himself and with a script already in place and himself the leading man he just needs to find a cast and he is good to go with filming this year. Back in June, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's Rooney Mara was said to be 'locked' into starring as the young love interest along with Andrew Garfield who Beatty was desperate to nail down as a younger version of Hughes but The Social Network star had to pull out over scheduling. His role was predicted to be a big part giving us the idea that the movie might be split 50/50 between the latter years Beatty would play, and the younger years a twenty something would hold. Recently Deadline reported that Beatty had met with the following thesps for roles; His old pal Jack Nicholson, his wife Annette Bening, notable young thesps Shia LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood, along with a part for Alec Baldwin who incidentally also appeared in The Aviator as Pan Am World Airways founder Juan Trippe, Hughes' big adversary. So it is very possible that Beatty has recently met with LaBeouf over the young Hughes part that Garfield once had and perhaps Evan Rachel Wood is now favourite to land the Mara 'young love interest' role, if she too has moved on. So a particularly intriguing project and as someone who is fascinated by Hughes' life, one I would be really interested in seeing told on screen again, no matter how much I love The Aviator. But I'm not sure Beatty's film, as great as the cast sounds, is the next Hughes movie I really want to see. Chris Nolan's rumoured 'Citizen Hughes' is the one that needs to be made. It would re-tell the latter days of Hughes secretive, OCD-inflicted life and would be an adaptation of Michael Drosnins Citizen Hughes: The Power, the Money and the Madness (first published in 1985). In many ways it would act as a sequel to The Aviator, picking up about the time that Scorsese left off and would be another movie for Nolan about obsession but you just know he would find a innovative and fresh way of telling the story. Nolans Hughes biopic would be based on the 3,000 documents that make-up the billionaires own handwritten memoranda. Vulture said explicitly earlier this year;
Well 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 would then point out, an interview with Nolan thats 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;
The underlying philosophy for me, in terms of the complexity of the film, had always been that those things that had allowed Memento to succeed with audiences in a very mainstream fashion could be tapped to make a huge-scale movie. And thats the premise on which Inceptions been built. I tried to do it with my Howard Hughes project first. And when that wasnt 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 dont want to say challenging for an audience because I dont think it isthats just a little different and a little bit of a shift.
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