Jim Thompson is one of the great American writers of the 20th century, and his tough, masculine prose and dark, cynical stories are ideal for movie adaptations, which is probably why Hollywood keeps coming back to his books. For the last couple of years The Killer Inside Me, one of his finest and most disturbing works, has been getting kicked around town, spending lots of time in Development Hell. The Killer Inside Me has been adapted before, in a not terrible but not particularly amazing Stacy Keach-starrer in 1976, but this story of a small town sheriff who seems dimwitted but is actually using his position to murder to his heart’s content and frame other people for the crimes, could stand another version.
Now that version could be closer to happening. Take what follows as unverified rumor, as idle talk and speculation: I have received an email from someone who says they are close to the Thompson estate, and who claims that The Killer Inside Me is about to get started on pre-production in early 2008 and that Joel Schumacher is attached to direct. On top of that, this informant says that Ryan Gosling’s name has been coming up as also attached.
I made a round of phone calls yesterday trying to get this story confirmed or denied, but I couldn’t get anybody on the record either way. Schumacher isn’t exactly the worst choice for this movie, although the kneejerk reaction is to recoil in horror based on his spotty track record. The thing about Schumacher is that he’s not a terrible director, he’s just an indulgent one who seems to have no sense of what is or isn’t working. And while there’s The Number 23 and Phantom of the Opera and Batman and Robin on his CV, there are also Phone Booth and Tigerland; hopefully a Schumacher-directed The Killer Inside Me would be approached like those movies.
Gosling’s weirder; Lou Ford, the psychotic main character of the book, is definitely older than Gosling. But is it possible that he never lost that weight he put on for The Lovely Bones, and that he’ll be playing older (if any of this is true, and remember, we’re taking this all as rumor and speculation)? Gosling’s the Intense Young Actor of our times, and I can see him gravitating to a role like this. And I can definitely see Schumacher wanting to work with him.
In the meantime, click here to buy The Killer Inside Me from CHUD; it’s one of my favorite Thompson books, and even if all this turns out to be untrue and a couple of people read their first Thompson as a result of this article, I’ll be pretty happy.