If there has been single characteristic that has marked Jeff Nichols’ three films to date (and we’re aware we’re being a bit reductive here), it’s that they usually center on extraordinary stories that take place in the most unlikely, everyday settings. From a familial feud to an impending apocalypse to a fairy tale of sorts in “Shotgun Stories,” “Take Shelter” and “Mud,” Nichols has established himself as a writer/director with a unique voice that doesn’t need big special effects and budgets to wow an audience. But his next movie might have a couple of explosions (sort of).
The helmer has signed on to develop and direct a biopic about Taylor Wilson, an Alabama teenager who gained notoriety for dabbling with nuclear material with the approval of his parents. Chronicled in the Popular Science article “The Boy Who Played With Fusion,” it tells the rather amazing story of a genius-level kid who achieved nuclear fusion by the age of 14, blessed with the kind of knowledge about physics most college students would love to have. The young man also looked into cancer-curing isotopes when his grandmother was striken by the disease. The clever part of the adaptation, and what will turn it into a movie, will be contrasting Wilson’s story with another strange but true tale based on the account of David Hahn, a Michigan teen who, in the 1990s, tried to build a breeder reacter in the backyard shed, leading to dangerous results. And all of this was told in the book “The Radioactive Boy Scout” by Ken Silverstein, which thrilled Wilson as a child.
The project is set up over at Fox via Chernin Entertainment, who are producing, and, we presume, this will be next for Nichols. Until then, he’s got “Mud” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival but has not yet been picked up for stateside distribution. Here’s hoping it does so very soon. If you want to know more about the whiz kid Taylor Wilson, you can jump over to his website right here. [Yahoo/Deadline]