Viggo Mortensen looks to team up with 'Drive' screenwriter for Patricia Highsmith adaptation
EXCLUSIVE: Hossein Amini is one of the hottest screenwriters around -- his Ryan Gosling-starring "Drive" has been getting some enthusiastic notices on the festival circuit, and he's penned big upcoming releases such as "47 Ronin" with Keanu Reeves and "Snow White and the Huntsman" with Kristen Stewart. Now Amini has written a new movie, and it unites him with a well-regarded actor, Viggo Mortensen, and an equally acclaimed novelist.
Amini and Viggo Mortensen are developing an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's "The Two Faces of January," according to a person familiar with the project who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk about it publicly. The idea is for Amini to make his directing debut with the film and Mortensen to star, the person said.
Highsmith's 1964 suspense novel centers on an American con artist, his wife, and a stranger they meet while traveling in Athens. After one of them kills a Greek police officer, the trio enter a high-stakes game with the authorities and one another as they attempt to cover up the crime and flee the country.
Highsmith's book has plenty in common with one of her most famous novels, "The Talented Mr. Ripley," another murderous story of Americans abroad (and whose film adaptation, of course, became a hit in 1999 for Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow). Highsmith, who died in 1995, also wrote the novel on which Alfred Hitchcock based his "Strangers on a Train."
Mortensen would star as one of the two male leads in "January," with the other two roles still being cast. The movie had initially been set up with the production company of the late Anthony Minghella (who directed "Mr. Ripley"). Financing is currently being put together for the independent production. A Mortensen spokeswoman did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
"January" would bring Mortensen together with Amini after the actor opted not to star in "Huntsman." The eclectic-minded performer hasn't been on the screen in nearly two years -- he was last seen as a troubled father caring for his son in the apocalyptic "The Road" in 2009.
Mortensen's fans, though, won't have to wait for "January" to see him on screen again. He stars in David Cronenberg's upcoming biopic of Sigmund Freud and has a supporting role in Walter Salles' adaptation of "On the Road."
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Viggo Mortensen. Credit: Peter Tym/For The Times