Cannes 2011: Cannes director and 'Memento' producer will collaborate on new film, possibly with Chris Pine [corrected]
EXCLUSIVE: As his star has risen in the last few years, Chris Pine has become known primarily for action roles -- his reprisal of the Capt. Kirk character in "Star Trek" in 2009, or as the upstart train man to Denzel Washington's veteran rail rat in "Unstoppable."
But those who have sensed that Pine has more serious acting chops could get a chance to see them in a new drama.
The actor is in talks to star in a new movie called "Mud," a coming-of-age story that will be written and directed by emergingCannes director Jeff Nichols and produced by "Memento" producer Aaron Ryder, according to a source close to the project who asked not to be identified because talks were ongoing.
In an interview Sunday, Ryder declined to comment on the status of the Pine talks. But he did confirm the project and described it as in the vein of "Stand by Me," essentially a drama about figuring out one's place in the world.
Nichols is the filmmaker behind the supernatural-tinged drama "Take Shelter," which is playing in the Critics Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie, which stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, had a strong showing at Sundance and will hit theaters later this year.) [Corrected, 6:33 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to its star as Michael Sheen; it is, in fact, Mr. Shannon.]
Nichols' new movie will center on two 14-year-boys who come across an adult fugitive of the law, the titular Mud (who would be played by Pine) and must help him escape off an island in the Mississippi. The ambiguity of the story lies with Mud, who is both an unsavory and a redemptive character and who teaches the boys as much as he learns from them.
The riverside setting and coming-of-age motif will inevitably draw comparisons to Huckleberry Finn, though the film will be set in the contemporary world.
"Mud" comes from a company called FilmNation, which is founded and run by independent-film veteran Glen Basner. Though it initially focused on financing movies by way of the sale of international rights -- it was behind the sale of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Looper" and is also peddling the Shia LaBeouf movie "The Wettest County in the World" -- it also is beefing up its financing and production arm under Aaron Ryder, a close associate of Christopher Nolan's who produced "Memento" and "The Prestige," and who will produce "Mud" with veteran Terrence Malick producer Sarah Green.
Ryder said his association with the blockbuster helmer had helped inform his current projects. "What Chris helped teach me," he said, "is that you can make commercially viable movies that people want to see that are still smart and sophisticated."
Basner said he aimed to make an assortment of deals for domestic and international rights on his films and also said the goal of FilmNation was to make movies that used budgets wisely, enabling it to take risks on the original material studios often eschew. "We're not interested in re-creating the movies from the past," he said. "We want to create new ones for the future."
-- Steven Zeitchik