Distributor Neon has scooped up North American rights to a new movie from “Anomalisa” director Duke Johnson. Titled “The Actor,” the film is being billed as a noir and will star Ryan Gosling. It’s based on the bestselling novel “Memory” by Donald E. Westlake, and Charlie Kaufman (who co-directed “Anomalisa” with Johnson) is also on board as an executive producer. According to Deadline, the buy was in the seven-figure range.
Here’s the synopsis from Neon: “Stranded in 1950s Ohio after a brutal attack, actor Paul Cole (Gosling), suffering from severe memory loss, struggles to find his way back to his life in New York and reclaim what he has lost. ‘The Actor’ follows a thrilling journey we must all make, to find home, to find love and ultimately to find ourselves.”
This will mark Duke Johnson’s first solo feature film directing credit. He most recently served as a supervising animation director for “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” and collaborated with his “Anomalisa” co-director Charlie Kaufman as a producer of animation on “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” which premiered on Netflix back in September. “Anomalisa” earned Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman, and Rosa Tran an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film in 2016 after premiering to raves at the Telluride, Venice, and Toronto film festivals.
“The Actor” marks the latest in a wave of titles Neon is getting involved in during the early stages, which also includes director Pablo Larraín’s highly anticipated Princess Diana biopic “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart. In just four years, Neon has garnered 12 Academy Award nominations, five wins, and has grossed over $150 million at the box office. Its historic successes include the South Korean film “Parasite” winning Best Picture last year, along with Best Director, Best International Film, and Best Original Screenplay.
Gosling is producing the feature alongside Waypoint Entertainment’s Ken Kao. Duke Johnson will produce with Abigail Spencer under their Innerlight Films production banner. Paul Young is producing through his company, MAKE GOOD.
Gosling and Kao’s partnership follows their recent project announcements of Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s “Project Hail Mary” at MGM, and Leigh Whannell’s “Wolfman” at Universal.