DEADLINE – Becca Thomas and Jessica Caldwell are adapting Cheryl Della Pietra’s book Gonzo Girl, inspired by the author’s crazy experiences while working with the late journalist and novelist Hunter S. Thompson. Thomas is set to direct and Oliva Cooke, who just completed a turn in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One at Warner Bros., is attached to star. The film will be produced by Tom Heller and Frank Hall Green under their Catch & Release Films banner.
Thomas and Caldwell collaborated previously on Electrick Children. She is also attached to direct The Little Mermaid at Working Title.
Simon & Schuster’s logline for the book is pretty darn funny. It reads: “Alley Russo is a recent college grad desperately trying to make it in the grueling world of New York publishing, but like so many who have come before her, she has no connections and has settled for an unpaid magazine internship while slinging drinks on Bleecker Street just to make ends meet. That’s when she hears the infamous Walker Reade is looking for an assistant to replace the eight others who have recently quit. Hungry for a chance to get her manuscript onto the desk of an experienced editor, Alley jumps at the opportunity to help Reade finish his latest novel.
“After surviving an absurd three-day “trial period” involving a .44 magnum, purple-pyramid acid, violent verbal outbursts, brushes with fame and the law, a bevy of peacocks, and a whole lot of cocaine, Alley is invited to stay at the compound where Reade works. For months Alley attempts to coax the novel out of Walker page-by-page, all while battling his endless procrastination, vampiric schedule, Herculean substance abuse, mounting debt, and casual gun play. But as the job begins to take a toll on her psyche, Alley realizes she’s alone in the Colorado Rockies at the mercy of a drug-addicted literary icon who may never produce another novel—and her fate may already be sealed.”
Hunter S. Thompson led a well-known gonzo lifestyle. In his early days as a journalist, he wrote (and very famously so) for Rolling Stone about the 1972 Richard Nixon, George McGovern election and from that developed a well-known loathing of Nixon. His The Rum Diary and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas were both made into films. He once accidentally shot his assistant while firing warning shots to scare off a bear.
He also wrote one of the best letters I’ve ever seen to a studio executive when trying to get the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas up and running, telling her, “We are not even spinning our wheels aggressively.” Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2005.
Heller and Green are also producing A Gathering of Saints: A True Story of Money, Murder and Deceit, which is based on The New York Times’ non-fiction bestseller written by Times reporter Robert Lindsay (author of The Falcon and the Snowman). Heller’s previous credits include Precious, 127 Hours, Foxcatcher, Win-Win, and Mud. Green is a longtime independent film producer, writer and director, whose directorial debut was Wildlike. Green also produced Remittance and the doc Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story, both coming out in 2017.
Thomas is repped by CAA, Circle of Confusion and attorney Bruce Gellman at Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman LLP.
Caldwell is repped by CAA, Circle of Confusion, and attorney Josh Sandler at Gray Krauss Stratford Des Rochers LLP.
Cooke is repped by CAA, Grandview, Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman LLP.
Author Della Pietra was represented in the deal by Paradigm on behalf of Gary Morris of the David Black Agency.
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow are behind the movie, which adapts the best-selling sci-fi novel by Ernie Cline.
Olivia Cooke, who starred in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, has nabbed the female lead in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and is in negotiations.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow are behind the movie, which adapts the best-selling sci-fi novel by Ernie Cline, and is in the thick of searching for its stars.
The story is set in a virtual world called Oasis, in which a teenager finds himself competing in a treasure hunt against ruthless foes after the game’s founder dies and offers his fortune as the grand prize.
Spielberg has been reading actors in Los Angeles and New York with the hope of finding both the male and female leads at the same time. That hasn’t happened and the hunt for the male continues, though Cooke rose to the top after tests that included Elle Fanning and Lola Kirke (Mozart in the Jungle, Gone Girl).
If a deal is made, Cooke would play the teen’s love interest and competitor, a Canadian blogger named Sam whose name in the virtual world is Art3mis.
Warners had no comment, and calls to Cooke’s representatives, Gersh and Luber Roklin Entertainment, were not immediately returned.
Spielberg is producing with Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Dan Farah.
The role is major breakthrough for Cooke, a rising talent who’s been working mostly in the indie world, while also appearing on A&E’s Bates Motel. She received a big career boost with Dying Girl, the indie that won the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and was picked up Fox Searchlight.
While the movie wasn’t the hit the studio hoped for, it lifted Cooke’s profile as one of the key actresses of the new generation. Not only did it put her into contention for Spielberg’s latest tentpole, but her name has surfaced as being on the shortlist for one of the Star Wars movies.
SCREENCRUSH – In addition to being on the shortlist for a leading role in Star Wars: Episode 8, rising star Olivia Cooke is also on a shortlist for another major upcoming film: Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s nostalgia-driven novel Ready Player One. Cooke is currently in contention for the role along with Elle Fanning and Mistress America newcomer Lola Kirke.
Kind of a big day for shortlists, as The Wrap reports that the three actresses are in the running to play the leading role in Ready Player One. Cooke is best known for her roles in Bates Motel and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, while Kirke recently broke out with a leading role in Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Mistress America. Fanning, meanwhile, has a ton of upcoming projects, including the transgender teen drama About Ray, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, and Ben Affleck’s Live by Night.
Ready Player One takes place in the year 2044, when the creator of a virtual utopia known as OASIS dies and bequeaths his empire to whichever player can successfully complete a treasure hunt. The novel is built entirely on nostalgia and pop culture references — particularly video game references — making it a bit of a tricky adaptation given the various licensing hurdles involved.
It also doesn’t seem like the sort of movie that would attract Spielberg, as it’s the kind of movie that would be directed by someone trying to ape Spielberg’s work. It’s a bit surprising that the director has yet to back out of the project, but with the casting process already begun it appears that Spielberg is still very committed.
THE WRAP – Rian Johnson is directing the sci-fi sequel, which Disney and Lucasfilm will release on May 26, 2017
Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Golden Globe nominee Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” star Olivia Cooke are considered the top contenders for the new female lead in Rian Johnson‘s “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” multiple individuals familiar with the casting situation told TheWrap.
Insiders insist it’s early in the casting process and that Johnson is still auditioning actresses, with several rising stars yet to read for him. Others suggest that Johnson is narrowing down the field and that Rodriguez, Maslany and Cooke will be among a group of girls slated to chemistry-read with “The Force Awakens” star John Boyega before the end of the month.
A representative for Disney declined to comment. The studio will release the sci-fi sequel on May 26, 2017. Ram Bergman is producing the film with Lucasfilm’s Kathy Kennedy, and production is expected to start early next year.
Oscar winner Benicio del Toro is nearing a deal to play the villain in “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” for which plot details remain unknown. However, the Internet has taken it upon itself to speculate that Han Solo’s daughter could be introduced in the film.
Rodriguez starred in the acclaimed indie drama “Filly Brown” before landing the title role on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” for which she won a Golden Globe. She has demonstrated she can play a strong female lead, and she next stars opposite Mark Wahlberg and Dylan O’Brien in Peter Berg‘s action drama “Deepwater Horizon.”
Maslany was a finalist for the lead role in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” though the coveted part ultimately went to Felicity Jones. Still, Maslany must’ve made a strong impression on Disney and Lucasfilm executives to be back in the mix for “Episode VIII.” In addition to playing multiple characters on “Orphan Black,” Maslany recently played the younger version of Helen Mirren‘s character in “Woman in Black” and wrapped the indie movie “Two Lovers and a Bear” with Dane DeHaan.
Cooke stars on “Bates Motel” and drew widespread acclaim for her impressive performance as a young cancer patient in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” which won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance. She has been in demand ever since, and is in the mix for the female lead in Steven Spielberg‘s “Ready Player One.” She’ll continue to showcase her range as a teenage prostitute in the indie drama “Katie Says Goodbye.”
THEWRAP – Timur Bekmambetov is directing the epic period picture for Paramount and MGM
“Ouija” star Olivia Cooke is circling a key role alongside Jack Huston in the “Ben-Hur” remake that Timur Bekmambetov is directing for Paramount and MGM, TheWrap has learned.
“Boardwalk Empire” alum Huston stars as the titular Jewish prince who is forced into slavery by his former friend Messala (Toby Kebbell).
Cooke has the offer for Tirzah, Ben-Hur’s sister, who in the original 1959 film was imprisoned by Messala along with her mother, to be played in this version by “Man of Steel” actress Ayelet Zurer. Formal negotiations have not yet begun, however, as Cooke is being considered for several other high-profile movies that are taking shape around town.
Cathy O’Donnell played Tirzah in her brother-in-law William Wyler’s classic movie, which proved to be her final film role.
Morgan Freeman and Pedro Pascal will co-star in the epic period picture, which will employ today’s cutting-edge technology to reimagine the original film’s classic chariot race.
Gal Gadot had been in talks to play the female lead of Esther, Ben-Hur’s true love. The Israeli actress was forced to bow out of the project due to her commitment as Wonder Woman in WB’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” as TheWrap first reported.
Keith Clarke and John Ridley wrote the script, which is based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.”
Mark Burnett is producing with Sean Daniel and Joni Levin, while Roma Downey is executive producing with Clarke, Ridley and Jason Brown. Production will begin early next year in Europe in advance of a February 2016 release.
Cooke helped power the low-budget horror movie “Ouija” to a $58 million worldwide gross to date. The young British actress stars on “Bates Motel” and recently wrapped Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” with Thomas Mann, Jon Bernthal and Nick Offerman.
Cooke, whose recent feature credits include the genre films “The Signal” and “The Quiet Ones,” is represented by the Gersh Agency, Luber Roklin Entertainment and Shepherd Management.