Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man) is gearing up to make his directorial debut and it appears that he has landed two major Hollywood stars for his adaptation of Mark Helprin’s 1983 fantasy novel Winter’s Tale .Vulture reports that the writer/director “called in every favor he had” and managed to land Russell Crowe and Will Smith for two supporting roles in the upcoming Warner Bros. project.
The movie, which will be set in both nineteenth-century and contemporary Manhattan, revolves around Peter Lake, an orphaned burglar who falls in love with a dying girl when he attempts to rob her fortress-like mansion. Crowe would take on the role of Pearly Soames, a gang leader who quickly become Peter’s mortal enemy, while Smith would play the role of a judge. Oh and there is a flying white horse called Athansor, who appears to be Peter’s guardian angel.
The project had been stuck going nowhere for the better part of a year over the previously reported $75 million budget which was a major source of contention for the studio, given the presence of a freaking flying white horse in the movie. To alleviate this concerns, the director managed to shave about $20 million from the script. Now add the casting of two bona-fide movie stars and this is obviously a major coup for Goldman that should ensure that the project will move forward toward production, possibly as early as next fall.
The lead roles of Peter Lake and the little girl still have not been cast so it will be interesting to speculate and see who actually end up with the roles. Here is a synopsis for Helprin’s book if you want learn more about the plot:
New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake–orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side.
Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying.
Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and besieged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature. [Amazon]