Academy Award Winner Wally Pfister is as much a part as the Nolan myth as the director himself, being the hand to Nolan’s head and Emma’s heart in the realm of bringing images to the screen. He’s a truly great cinematographer, and is known for the kind of outspokenness that landed him recently in a 1000 blogger headlines when he trashed camera placement in The Avengers. He’s also been a big film advocate and IMAX pioneer, having been privileged to work in formats so unattainable by most filmmakers that they have no bearing in the conversation, no matter how gorgeous the results. But fuck all that.
Pfister and Nolan have been set to part ways for some time, as Pfister has been planning a directorial debut with a science fiction film since well before the production of The Dark Knight Rises. With that film behind him the process on his debut, the title I now learn is Transcendence, can be again in earnest. It’s starting off with a bang too, as word has just hit that Johnny Depp is negotiating for the lead role. This comes from Film Stage and was backed up by tweets from Variety staffer Jeff Sneider. You can put here all of the obvious, guarded celebrating that Johnny Depp still has interesting choices in him.
There’s nothing out there about the film other than it being written by newcomer Jack Paglen, but Chris Nolan and Emma Thomas will produce and it will begin shooting early next year.
EDIT: THR writer Borys Kit tweets that the film is “2001 meets Inception and is about the creation of a malevolent computer program. Depp will play a guy that gets sucked into the program.”
The D.P.-to-director transition is not an uncommon one (Sonnenfeld, for example, has done great and bad work on both sides), but Pfister isn’t entirely cutting his teeth here. He’s a proven commercial director, and is one of the crew that made some pretty outrageous anti-meth ads.