Gary Ross May Take on Matt Helm Before Directing Venom
Back in July there were some rumblings about Steven Spielberg directing a film called Matt Helm, the story of a pulp-fiction swinging spy but without all the Austin Powers parody humor. The writing/producing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were pushing the Paul Attanasio adaptation of Donald Hamilton's 27-book-series, but when Spielberg took Dreamworks from Paramount, executives weren't too keen on giving him Matt Helm. Now it looks like the project has life again as The Playlist reports writer/director Gary Ross might end up directing Matt Helm even before he jumps into the Marvel universe with Venom.
Apparently their sources say that Venom isn't exactly being fast-tracked and Matt Helm is being scheduled to shoot in the summer of 2010 if everything falls into place. The Playlist also mentions that Bradley Cooper is on the top of the list to take on the titular role after George Clooney (who this was originally developed for) and Jon Hamm turned away from the project. Matt Helm has had a couple iterations in the past with Dean Martin playing the womanizing spy in a series of films in the 1960's, and a television show starring Tony Franciosa in the 1970's. This new project will be updated to take place in present day.
In the past, Gary Ross has been involved with lighthearted, uplifting fare like Big and Dave. Though Ross showed a more dramatic side with Seabiscuit, his foray into both Venom and now Matt Helm show that he's ready for something completely different, and I'm excited to see what he can bring to the table. Ross has a way of taking simple yet unbelievable stories and adding various layers of depth around them, even if they aren't subtle. One such example is his directorial debut with Pleasantville. Though the premise is hokey, the film takes a sharp turn, as the stunning visuals and symbolic undertones become the focus of the story.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Ross can do with both Matt Helm and Venom, whichever comes first.