Gary Ross & Jennifer Lawrence Reteaming for 'East of Eden' Movies
Yep, that "s" on the end of "movies" in the headline is accurate - this might be adapted into two films, not just one. With production underway on the two final movies in the Hunger Games series, Jennifer Lawrence is keeping her career diverse with entirely different roles. Yet another project to add to her line-up is a new take on John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden, being directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games), produced by Brian Grazer (Robin Hood, Tower Heist, J. Edgar, Rush most recently) at Imagine Entertainment, and developed at Universal. Steinbeck's East of Eden is apparently Ross' favorite American novel and he wants to to tell the generational story in two films. It was originally adapted in 1955.
The news about this adaptation focuses mostly on the reteaming of The Hunger Games director Gary Ross and its star Jennifer Lawrence. In addition to this East of Eden project, which was sold by their agents and picked up by Universal, the two are attached to another project being pitched in Hollywood - an adaptation of Hannah Kent's novel Burial Rites. The story in that is about a woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. The same as with East of Eden, Ross is attached to direct with Lawrence set to play the lead in that film. In East of Eden, Lawrence will (likely) be playing Cathy Ames, the cold, cruel mother of the twin boys Caleb and Aron and estranged wife of farmer Adam Trask. That should be a challenging but ambitious role.
The 1952 John Steinbeck novel was first adapted in 1955 by director Elia Kazan starring Raymond Massey, Julie Harris & Jo Van Fleet and is one of the three infamous roles that defined James Dean. Steinbeck's other famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, is also being re-adapted with DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg in the mix. Deadline says that East of Eden is being developed now, with the intention of putting it on the fast-track once Gary Ross finished directing Peter and the Starcatchers next. Lawrence is currently shooting two back-to-back Hunger Games movies. It'll be interesting if they actually make Eden as two films as well.
With adaptations attracting A-list talent and ending up being some of the biggest moneymakers at the box office recently, it's no surprise that Hollywood is getting more and more obsessed with adaptations, going so far as to dig up classics like this. Do we really need to see a new take on this story? Probably not, but that's not going to stop them from trying anyway. At least they have an impressive group of producers and talent attached so far. We'll be keeping an eye out for any development updates for those already interested in this.