While some projects die on the vine and enter the hallowed “what if” halls of legendary projects that never got made, some eventually come creaking back to life. The latest lucky one to defy the odds is “Shantaram,” a former Johnny Depp-led project that Warner Bros. is reviving. And while Depp has stepped back in the producers chair for his Inifinitum Nihil production shingle, he has handpicked a new lead: Aussie Joel Edgerton, whose stock in Hollywood just keeps rising and rising.
Here’s what we wrote about “Shantaram” in a 2010 piece about Ten Dead Projects We’d Like To See Resurrected:
An extraordinary true story, “Shantaram” followed a drug addict bank robber who took on multiple identities to evade cops in several countries, eventually settling in Mumbai where he practiced medicine for the locals. The script by Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”) was much buzzed-about, and Peter Weirbecame attached, but the studio could never agree on the budget for what was definitely R-rated material. As the studio dithered, Depp quickly attached himself to a host of other projects, though “Shantaram” was always a possibility, even if Weir gave way to Mira Nair (“Vanity Fair”). It wasn’t until Disney’s plans to shoot two ‘Pirates‘ sequels back-to-back that “Shantaram” breathed its last breath at a studio.
According to Deadline, Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan was once set to co-star alongside Depp in the movie, but Depp is apparently now courting Edgerton to take the role. Edgerton’s developed a lot of heat since appearing in 2009’s Aussie hit “Animal Kingdom” and 2011’s “Warrior.” Those films paved the way for roles in “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Great Gatsby.” Depp’s fondness for Edgerton may not be such a surprise for those paying attention: the Aussie actor may star alongside Depp in “Black Mass,” a film about notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. That is, if they can get that project back to life.