Universal has wasted no time developing a second go at a movie detailing the life of Louis Zamperini, who is a dude worthy of a wikipedia distraction if there ever was one. Once developed as a Tony Curtis vehicle in the late 50s, Louis’ story is that of a record-breaking Olympian runner from New York who ended up enlisting in the American military effort in WWII and found himself in several Japanese internment camps. Made a specific target by a particularly nasty guard, Zamperini was plagued by nightmares of his torture for years after his return home. He eventually forgave his captors and even visited Japan to meet them, and he’s still kicking around today at age 93. An extremely detailed new book from Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand has given Universal the right catalyst for their renewed effort, picking up where the non-starter Tony Curtis project left off.

Francis Lawrence may have the opportunity to helm this clearly high-priority piece to follow up his recently completed Water for Elephants, as he and writer Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) are being folded into the project. Water for Elephants (a topic in the first CHUD Video Podcast, see below) looks to be a classy and highfalutin piece of work that’s apparently given the studios confidence in Lawrence’s ability to carry as weighty (and awards-baity) a drama as I’m sure they’d like this new Zamperini project to be. Not a bad gig for a guy who started out directing J.Lo videos before starting his feature film career with the low-key but undervalued Constantine.

The new (seven year in the making) book is called Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, and it’s sitting at number two on the New York Times Best-Seller List as I type. There a multitude of moments from Zamperini’s life that would make for iconic screen images- running in the Berlin Olympics, being personally congratulated by Adolph Hitler, setting running records, signing up for the air force, crashing in Japan, and the frequent POW camp changes. It has drama written all over it, is varnished with prestige, and will have every young actor in Hollywood falling over themselves to land the lead role. There could well be more than a few fired agents and iPhones tossed into the concrete when news breaks that the role is filled.

Also, in a “it’s a small small world” alert, Mick Garris is Zamporini’s son-in-law and will be among the executive producers!

Source | Deadline