Well, so much for “Cleopatra.” Vulture reports that director Paul Greengrass is eying, for his next directorial effort, a script he’s penned titled “Memphis.” The story centers on the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the springtime of 1968, when he was trying to help the city’s sanitation workers find common ground. As Vulture notes, this was a tumultuous time for the former preacher: he was facing heat from the President over his opposition to the Vietnam War while fighting marginalization due to his insistence on focusing his efforts on the poor working class.
The report, which suggests superproducer Scott Rudin and Focus Features may be involved, though no negotiations have begun, mentions nothing of Greengrass’ supposed next effort, rumored to possibly be “Cleopatra” with Angelina Jolie as recently as last week.
Despite the considerable financial failure of the $100 million+ “Green Zone“, Greengrass has been heavily in demand for a number of possible tentpoles, including “Fantastic Voyage“, “Treasure Island” and the aforementioned 3D “Cleopatra”, also produced by Rudin. This news also emerges on the heels of the story that the “United 93” helmer had tried to mount a project based on the life of Jimi Hendrix that also fizzled out. It’s good to know that after these tentpoles-by-committee with screenplays from various sources, Greengrass still has the steam to simply go out and write his own project.
We’re strongly rooting for this film to happen more than any of the others mentioned in the articles, as it has the greatest potential for dramatic intrigue and insight into a volatile moment in history. But who would Greengrass sign to bring gravitas to the lead role? We love Anthony Mackie, Greengrass’ choice to be Hendrix, but he might not be beefy enough. Jeffrey Wright would be excellent too, if he didn’t already hit the mark in the superb TV movie “Boycott“. We’re curious to see what other names pop up — honestly, we’d just be glad to give daily updates on a big leading male role that didn’t mention names like Ryan Reynolds, Matt Damon, Armie Hammer and Zac Efron.