In early 2010 we reported that writer/director Oren Moverman — who directed “The Messenger” and the upcoming police drama “Rampart” starring Woody Harrelson — was working on an adaptation of William S. Burroughs‘ “Queer” and staged a test-drive reading of the screenplay at the Sarasota Film Festival that spring. Evidently he was doing a solid for his friend Steve Buscemi (who cameos in both of Moverman’s pictures) who would direct and produce the adaptation.
More than a year later, that’s apparently (knock on wood) coming to pass. And Buscemi is eyeing a lot of his friends for leads. At last night’s star-studded screening of “Rampart” — which according to Playlisters in the house, included Ben Stiller, husband and wife power duo Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, Milos Forman, Courtney Love, Liv Tyler, Buscemi, Stanley Tucci and many, many more — Moverman revealed to Vulture that Guy Pearce, Ben Foster and Kelly Macdonald would all be starring in the film.
“Steve is one of the first people I worked with in the film business, and he’s a great director. I love him as a director,” Moverman told Vulture. What’s “Queer” about? Well it’s the sort of spiritual sequel to “Junky” and not very plot driven and very much like commentary on characters found in the urban underclass of drug addiction. Evidently the genesis of the novel came from the infamous incident when Burroughs accidentally shot and killed his wife Joan.
“It wasn’t published until 1984 [and] it was written in 1952,” Moverman said. “And once it was published, it was really the story of William S. Burroughs kind of discovering himself as a writer by being obsessed with this boy. And there’s very little in it about the wife, but what’s happening at the same time is it’s the time where [Burroughs] killed his wife, you know, during the whole famous William Tell routine. So that’s sort of the incident that we started working with and built this whole movie around.”
Here’s a synopsis from Amazon:
Stylistically similar to Junky , it claims the same protagonist, Lee, who in this work is experiencing a period of intense withdrawal from heroin. He is disintegrated, unsure of himself and his purpose, given to emotional excess. He is obsessed with sex, yet even more craves attention. To satisfy this craving he invents rather frantic “routines” designed to shock and amuse his companions. While Queer may seem tame in comparison to Burroughs’s later work, it is important for the insight it offers about his development as a writer.
Apparently Moverman wrote the script 10 years ago and cautioned that it’s early days and not all the funding is in place. But still, it’s an exciting cast and prospect if it happens. If and when it gets made “Queer” will be Buscemi’s fifth feature-length directorial effort, which includes “Tree’s Lounge” and the very underrated “Interview.” Macdonald currently co-stars with Buscemi in HBO‘s “Boardwalk Empire,” Foster is part of the Moverman/Buscemi/Woody Harrelson gang that was out last night in full force, and the Guy Pearce connection isn’t immediately apparent, but at the very least they’re likely mutual admirers.