Keeping it small and simple, Max Winkler made a notable first feature with his 2010 outing, “Ceremony.” Starring Uma Thurman, Michael Angarano and Lee Pace, that film, a coming-of-age dramedy, displayed some impressively tender moments in his first venture behind the camera, and now a new period project looks to (further) establish Winkler with his own distinct directorial voice.
Winkler is set to team with producer and frequent collaborator Matt Spicer for the 18th-century set comedy, “The Coward,” based on the play from Nick Jones that ran during New York Lincoln Center’s 2010-2011 season. Both men will co-write the flick, which follows a sheepish young man forced into a duel who then pays a criminal to stand in his place. As the stand-in wins the first duel, and then proceeds to go on and win others, the real person finds his name suddenly growing into legend, and out of control.
In April, we reported Winkler to be prepping an untitled mob comedy with Steve Carell and Jake Johnson, but news from that project has been scarce since. “The Coward” seems like a solid detour nonetheless, marking a nice development in the comic chops Winkler displayed in his debut, with the film said to be, intriguingly, like “Barry Lyndon” meets “Trading Places.” Winkler made a name for himself shooting the impressive CBS internet series “Clark and Michael,” starring Michael Cera and Clark Duke as two friends making their way as actors, so hopefully those same instincts will serve him well as he heads to this latest unique project. [Deadline]