Plus Updates On Michel Gondry’s ‘Ubik’ & David Cronenberg’s ‘As She Climbed Across The Table’
Steve Zaillian has, over the past couple of decades, become Hollywood’s go-to-guy for smart, grown-up dramas. From “Awakenings” and “Schindler’s List” to “Moneyball,” which, with Aaron Sorkin, has a good chance of winning him his second Oscar, and the imminent “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” a credit by Zaillian generally suggests that a film won’t be some pandering blockbuster fare, but a thoughtful, adult picture. Away from the typewriter, he’s also carved out a second career as director, starting off with the underrated “Searching for Bobby Fischer” before going on to the solid “A Civil Action” and, most recently, the remake “All The King’s Men.”
The latter was less-well received; we spoke to Zaillian over the weekend as he was doing press for ‘Dragon Tattoo,’ and he acknowledged he was hurt by the critical reception, saying “That was painful. I had a great time making it but it came out and the critics didn’t really like it, so that was painful.” In part, he points to the increased budget on the film as one of the problems, saying “The more money you spend the more anxiety there is by the people who are financing it, the more control they want. It stops being about the story and what you’re trying to do and it’s all about how you’re going to sell it. So I want to go the other way, I want to go back to the scale of something like ‘Bobby Fischer.’
And it seems like he might have found that project, and it’s a remake of “Time Crimes,” the cult debut by Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo. Zaillian was announced as rewriting the project at the start of the year, but on potential directing projects, he told us “I don’t have any imminent plans, [but] there’s a couple of things I’ve been toying with… I co-wrote something, an American version of a little Spanish film called “Time Crimes.” Tim Sexton (“Children of Men“) was the first writer on it, and I did some work on it. It’s a little science fiction thing that I might do. Need money, need actors, all of those things.”
The film, a deviously-plotted time travel thriller, was a big hit on the festival circuit a few years back, and it certainly marks a big break from anything that Zaillian’s done before, which is intriguing, although it obviously is far from a concrete proposition at this point. We’re sure, should he get his financing together, more news will follow.
He also serves as a producer, having founded the company Film Rites, who were behind ‘Dragon Tattoo,’ “Moneyball” and the Kristen Stewart drama “Welcome to the Rileys,” among others, and they’ve got projects with two major filmmakers on their upcoming slate; teaming with Media Rights Capital for David Cronenberg “As She Climbed Across The Table,” an astrophysical romance by Jonathan Lethem, and Michel Gondry‘s take on Philip K. Dick‘s “Ubik.”
We asked about the status of both films, and Zaillian confirmed they’re moving forward, slowly but surely. “We’re looking for a writer for Michel’s [film]. Bruce Wagner is writing the Cronenberg one. In the case of the Cronenberg film we do have financing, but with Michel’s we have some, but we need more. We’ll see what happens.” Those films might be a way off yet, but “Moneyball” is in theaters at the moment, and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” hits theaters from tomorrow evening. And we’ll have more from our interview with Zaillian very soon.