'Smashed' Director to Adapt 'Pippin' & 'Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock'
by Ethan Anderton
April 17, 2013
After directing last year's indie Smashed, and the much-buzzed about 2013 Sundance selected The Spectacular Now (arriving in theaters this August), director James Ponsoldt is filling up his future slate pretty quickly. Earlier this year, Ponsoldt became attached to an adaptation of the young adult novels known as The Pure Trilogy for Fox 2000, and now he has two more adaptations. Deadline reports Ponsoldt has two deals at The Weinstein Company to script a new version of Pippin, and also adapt and direct Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, based on the novel by Matthew Quick, author of last year's Silver Linings Playbook.
Pippin is the classic stage musical with music and lyrics by the legendary Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. A revival of the show is headed to Broadway later this year, so there's no time like the present to send the story to the big screen, especially after the love for the period musical Les Miserables both by audiences and the Academy Awards. For those not familiar, the story follows Pippin, heir to the 9th century Holy Roman Empire led by King Charlemagne as he struggles to find his place in the world, dabbling in war, sex, and politics before finally finding love. Sounds like something very different for Ponsoldt, unless he's working on some sort of contemporary adaptation.
Meanwhile, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock sounds like something Ponsoldt could work wonders with as a writer and director. Following his handling of alcoholism with two very different characters at different parts of their life in Smashed and The Spectacular Now, Ponsoldt would tackle another powerful topic, especially for the younger crowd. On his birthday, Leonard Peacock packs his grandfather's gun in his backpack with plans to kill his former best friend. But before he takes that bold step, he spends his day saying goodbye to the four people he cares about the most: his Humphrey Bogart--obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Sounds like powerful stuff.
At this point, I'm excited for anything Ponsoldt gets his hands on. The director has done nothing but impress me with Smashed, featuring a stellar awards worthy turn by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and an impeccable blend of drama and comedy, and might have even topped that effort with The Spectacular Now at Sundance earlier this year. Both Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley give stunning performances and prove that they're the next generation of fine young actors who will hopefully be sticking around for years to come. Stay tuned for anymore updates on all of Ponsoldt's forthcoming projects.