With Friday’s news that his company, Appian Way, has signed on to co-produce “The Crowded Room,” not to mention a starring role in “Birdman” helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s upcoming “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio is set to appear in several juicy titles. Can the four-time Academy Award acting nominee (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” “The Aviator,” “Blood Diamond,” “The Wolf of Wall Street”) finally parlay his taste for eccentric characters into an Oscar statuette?
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, DiCaprio has wanted to play “The Crowded Room” protagonist Billy Milligan for nearly two decades. In the 1970s, Milligan, who had 24 personalities, was acquitted on charges of robbery and rape by reason of insanity after pretrial evaluations diagnosed him with multiple personality disorder, the first such defense in American legal history. Based on the nonfiction title by Daniel Keyes and slated to be adapted by Jason Smilovic (“Lucky Number Slevin”) and Todd Katzberg, “The Crowded Room” seems poised to offer a lead performance that’s catnip to Academy voters, flashy and transformative.
In the meantime, DiCaprio is in Canada filming Iñárritu‘s Western, already subject of Peter Knegt’s bold, “(absurdly) early” 2016 Oscar predictions. He stars as Hugh Glass, a 19th-century fur trapper whose companions rob him and leave him for dead when he’s mauled by a bear, and then pursues frontier justice for their betrayal. Also in the works for the actor is an adaptation of S. Craig Zahler’s gritty crime novel, “Mean Business on North Ganson Street,” now in pre-production; Screen Rant reports that Jamie Foxx is attached to the project, which focuses on a disgraced detective who relocates to the rustbelt city of Victory, Missouri to find that the police are the target of a gruesome killing spree.
With three dark, meaty roles in the pipeline, it’s likely that DiCaprio will continue to feature in the Oscar conversation once again in the not-so-distant future, though as Eddie Redmayne’s late-breaking victory for “The Theory of Everything” over Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) shows, early buzz does not a Best Actor winner make.