Among the many projects Phillip Noyce has been looking at since last summer’s “Salt” — which have included the time travel tale “Timeless,” a remake of “Bloodsport” (!?) and more recently the sexual thriller “The Arrangement” — lurking in the back has always been “My Wild Life.” It first came on the radar at the end of 2010 as a possibility for the helmer, and then gained more traction this spring when Nicole Kidman began eyeing the lead role. Now it looks like it’s going to leapfrog ahead of everything else to become Noyce and Kidman’s next picture.
Just a bit of history first. The project has been developing for a while over at New Line, first with Nick Cassavetes (”The Notebook”)—back when it was known as “Peaceable Kingdom” or “Elephant Orphanage”—but he bailed acrimoniously in what resulted in an ugly lawsuit. Slightly more tantalizing, Walter Salles (”The Motorcycle Diaries”) became attached to the project and Julia Roberts had been eyeing the lead, but that obviously never panned out. But the Kidman/Noyce iteration is a go with filming to begin early next year for a holiday season release in 2012.
The film is based on the life of Daphne Sheldrick, who famously devoted her life to preventing the extinction of elephants in Kenya. Jeff Stockwell (”The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys”) wrote one of the earlier drafts of the script, but part of the reason Cassavetes sued New Line is that he did a major overhaul of the screenplay, thought he was going to direct and was incensed when they told him his services were no longer needed once he turned in his new draft. It appears that Stockwell’s draft is the one being used.
Certainly, there is no doubt that this is Oscar bait material. Mandalay Pictures are in the process of getting the rights to the movie from New Line, and Universal is expected to step in and distribute the film next year. An intriguing move by both director and actress alike, who are looking to become players during next year’s awards season. [THR]