Angelina Jolie Lines Up 'Unbroken' WWII Drama for Next Directing Gig
by Ethan Anderton
December 19, 2012
After making her directorial debut with In the Land of Blood and Honey (which is available to watch on Netflix Instant), Angelina Jolie is lining up her next directorial gig, and it's going to be a major studio drama. Deadline has word that Universal Pictures and Walden Media is finalizing a deal with the actress turned filmmaker to be at the helm of Unbroken, an adaptation of the book of the same name by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, about Olympian Louis Zamperini who became a prisoner of war in World War II. Jolie apparently pushed really hard to get the job, beating out several unnamed directors.
Here's the synopsis of the book which has spent 108 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list:
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
Back in January of 2011 director Francis Lawrence and writer Scott Cooper were being eyed for an adaptation, but both of those names seemingly fell away from the project over the past couple years. Actually, the story of Zamperini has been in development for decades as Universal picked up Zamperini's life rights back in 1957 along with his memoir The Devil at My Heels and the late Tony Curtis was interested in taking the part. Then the project died off, but had a bit of a revival after the Nagano Olympics (Zamperini carried the torch) with Nicolas Cage interested in lead.
But who will step into the role with Jolie directing? Could she give the job to Brad Pitt, or will another actor get a chance to shine? Either way, this is sure to be an Oscar contender with a new script from Gladiator and Les Miserables co-writer William Nicholson, who rewrote an earlier draft by Richard LaGravanese Likely plenty more people will see this film as opposed to the low key In the Land of Blood and Honey, so Jolie might start taking on more directing jobs as opposed to staying in front of the camera for the rest of her career. Stay tuned.