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Michel Hazanavicius In Talks To Direct Tom Hanks, Maybe Natalie Portman In ‘In The Garden Of Beasts’

Michel Hazanavicius In Talks To Direct Tom Hanks, Maybe Natalie Portman In 'In The Garden Of Beasts'

An hour or so ago, most of the moviegoing world had their eyes on the trailer premiere for Steven Spielberg‘s “Lincoln,” tipped by many to lead to Oscars for both the director and its star, Daniel Day-Lewis. And yet at the same time, last year’s Best Director Academy Award winner, and one of only five living actors with as many gold statues as Day-Lewis, were sneakily making plans for a film that looks like it could be a future awards juggernaut, and may be bringing along a recent Best Actress winner too.

According to Deadline, “The Artist” helmer Michel Hazanavicius is in talks to helm “In The Garden Of Beasts,” an adaptation of the non-fiction book, by Erik Larson (“The Devil In The White City“),  which would star Tom Hanks, who would also produce through his Playtone label. The film, set up at Universal, revolves around William Dodd, who was America’s ambassador to Germany during the early years of Hitler’s rule in Germany.

Even as Dodd gradually realizes Hitler’s intention, his daughter Martha has affairs with a number of Nazi men, including the chief of the Gestapo. And Hanks isn’t the only A-lister being courted for the project, as Natalie Portman is apparently being sought to play Martha, which would mark a bit of a return to prestige fare after her Oscar victory for “Black Swan.” No deal is yet official yet, and with Portman gearing up for Lynne Ramsay‘s Western “Jane Got A Gun,” there could be some scheduling difficulties.

That said, the film’s still a way off—there’s no writer on board yet, although Hanks and Hazanavicius are set to take meetings soon (we can see someone like Graham Moore, who’s been adapting “The Devil And The White City,” landing the job). Plus “The Artist” helmer is set to reteam with wife Berenice Bejo on “The Search” first, and recently expressed interest in Demetri Martin‘s “Will” too, so this could be one or two projects down the line. Still, it’s a potent-sounding bit of material, and one that could be very, very different from the one that made Hazanavicius’ name, as well as providing killer roles for Hanks and Portman. More news as it comes in.

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