Tim Blake Nelson has always been a talent equally as adept on-screen as he is behind the camera — putting his stamp on such diverse films as WWII drama “The Grey Zone” and pot comedy “Leaves of Grass” — but as his primary focus and the majority of his credits remains acting-based, he's now found back-to-back roles in the ambitious directorial efforts of his fellow peers.
James Franco and Tommy Lee Jones have both lined up their next projects in the director's chair — literary biopic “Bukowski” and pioneer-era western “The Homesman,” respectively — and besides keeping true to each actor's narrative wheelhouse, they've added the integral element of Nelson to their casts as well.
Tracing the life of Charles Bukowski from childhood through his high school years, “Bukowski” will find Nelson in the role of the poet's father, Henry, whose financial straits lead to abuse toward his child, and eventually a reciprocal violent backlash. Having announced his biopic intentions first in 2010 with an adaptation of "Ham On Rye," Franco also wrote the script, but it's as yet unclear whether he'll take a prominent role alongside Nelson too. (Nor is it clear if this film is indeed that adaptation or something new.)
As for Jones, the actor/director will certainly appear in “The Homesman,” which charts his outlaw character's wagon-led efforts to ferry three mentally unstable women from Nebraska to Iowa, under threat from the elements and each other along the way. Hilary Swank and Meryl Streep have already joined the picture, and with Nelson now involved on the Kieran Fitzgerald/Wesley A. Oliver-scripted project, that counts two projects for which our anticipation has definitely kicked up a notch.
“The Homesman” begins shooting this spring in New Mexico, while “Bukowski” — given Franco's general work rate — might be done next week once its final cast is locked. [THR]