Steve Carell looks to make music with 'Once' director
EXCLUSIVE: Steve Carell appears to be adding one more interesting director to his dossier: "Once" helmer John Carney.
Carney is in final negotiations to direct Carell's drama "Dogs of Babel," said a person familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to talk about them publicly. A spokeswoman for producer Mandate Pictures was not immediately available for comment. [Update, 3:03 p.m, Wednesday: Mandate confirms that Carney has been hired.]
A bittersweet, music-themed love story starring Frames frontman Glen Hansard and newcomer Marketa Irglova, "Once" established Carney as a director who can handle tender feelings. That should serve the Irish filmmaker well on "Babel," which concerns a professor (Carell) who tries to coax his dog to speak out about the death of the professor's wife, to which the canine was the only witness.
Based on Carolyn Parkhurst’s well-received debut novel and Jamie Linden's script, "Dogs of Babel" is being produced by "Juno" producers Mandate as well as Carell, his partners, "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman and a company called Sekretagent Prods.
Carell, who in 2007 toplined the widower piece "Dan in Real Life," looks to be hitting the dramas now that he's making a full go of it in the film world. Many of these projects feature notable directors. His upcoming “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," about adults finding connection in the face of apocalypse, is the directorial debut of the Black List screenwriter Lorene Scafaria. Meanwhile, the fact-based John du Pont tale "Foxcatcher" will be directed by "Moneyball" helmer Bennett Miller.
Made for less than $1 million, the Ireland-set "Once" became a critical and art-house hit after Fox Searchlight acquired it at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The movie also won the Oscar for original song. (Hansard and Irglova were revisited in the recent documentary "The Swell Season.")
Carney's work will next be seen via the independent supernatural drama "The Rafters," which he recently finished shooting.
Photo: Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard in "Once." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures