Angelina Jolie‘s greatest battle this year might just be her valiant effort against cancer, surviving thanks to a double mastectomy, modestly going public with her story and then heading back to work on her next project. It’s the true WWII story “Unbroken,” and after gaining a rewrite from the Coen Brothers earlier this year (nice), she’s starting to search for the lead for the movie she’ll direct.
And Deadline reports that rising star Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle,” “Lawless,” “The Place Beyond The Pines,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2“), Jack O’Connell (“300: Rise Of An Empire“) and some guy named Alexander Dreymon are all testing for the part. And it’s a pretty meaty role. Based on “Seabiscuit” writer Laura Hillenbrand‘s bestseller “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption,” the film will tell the tale of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian who endured medical experiments, slave labor, and brutal beatings as a Japanese POW during WWII. He became the target of one sadistic guard in particular, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, whose goal it was to break Zamperini. He endured his harsh punishment right though until the end of the war, but the lingering effects were still felt. He routinely had terrifying nightmares, suffered alcoholism but, on the verge of losing everything, he found God and forgave his captors, even traveling to Japan to forgive them in person (though Watanabe refused to meet him).
So, yeah, it’s the kind of part that has “awards season” written all over it, and Jolie is searching high and low for the right actor. But a decision will likely come soon as lensing is aiming to get started this fall.