At the "Argo" premiere party, George Clooney was not only delighted about producing one of the year's hits, but was in the thick of preproduction on "Monuments Men," a project he plans to direct and star in. (Of course that was once true of "Argo.") He and frequent writing partner Grant Heslov are adapting the true story, as documented in Robert M. Edsel's book "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History," which follows a special force of art lovers who help countries to steal the world's best art back from the Nazis. Such paintings as the Mona Lisa and Nightwatch were at stake. Heslov will produce.
Clooney's been scouting locations in Europe, and is thinking about such 60s Eurothrillers as John Frankenheimer's stolen art flick "The Train." "I'm excited," Clooney said.
Now casting is firming up. Cate Blanchett is on board to co-star as Rose Valland, an art historian and member of the French Resistance, while Bill Murray is in, most likely as the co-founder of the New York City ballet, Lincoln Kirstein (a role that had been rumored to be going to Paul Giamatti). Clooney has also added recent Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin.
Twentieth Century Fox has come on board to co-finance the $50 million film with Sony, reports THR. Sony will take the US while Fox handles the international market.
Clooney, last on the screen as an actor in "The Descendants," has several other projects in development as producer, actor and/or director. Next up, he stars in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity," which we will hopefully see next year.
Here's Amazon's description of the book:
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised. In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.