Exclusive: Joe Wright Wants To Direct African Adventure Film ‘Stanley’

Exclusive: Joe Wright Wants To Direct African Adventure Film 'Stanley'

Also Says He Wants Saoirse Ronan To Be His ‘Little Mermaid’

Joe Wright‘s forthcoming “Hanna” was a massive gear change for the director. A pure genre pic with choreographed fights and a blitzing soundtrack from the Chemical Brothers, it was a far cry from the usual fare by the director of “Atonement” and “Pride & Prejudice.” And while his next film, “Anna Karenina,” will find him back in costumed period territory, he’s got a couple of other projects in the cooker that will once again find him branching out into new terrain. We recently chatted with the director and he shared a couple of tidbits about some films that may be on the horizon for him.

Stanley” is a project connected to Wright that we’ve been hearing about recently. Based on the book “Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer” by Tim Jeal, it tells the story of true life Victorian journalist and explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley. He is said to have coined the phrase “Dr. Livingstone, I presume” but more importantly his extensive, and harrowing, journey down the Congo River is said to have inspired Joseph Conrad‘s “Heart Of Darkness.” We asked Wright when he might make the project, and while it’s too early to tell, he has a deep connection to the material.

“I don’t know, at the moment. I have no idea. It’d be really good,” he said. “And I’d really like to go to Africa. My father is from Africa, so I’d really like to go and explore where he was from. But I’m not sure. The problem is you never really end up making the films you want to make. A career is what happens when you’re developing other screenplays.”

Another one of those “other screenplays” is “The Little Mermaid” which also has a connection to his father. Set up at Working Title, who also shepherded “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement,” the original story is based off the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, has a script by Abi Morgan (”Brick Lane”), and is partly inspired by the stage production by the Little Angel Theatre Company, which was founded by Wright’s father. But as he stated during WonderCon he’s not keen on taking it on while everyone else in Hollywood is obsessed with fable based films.

“To be honest, when I was first developing it, there were no fairy tale films being made. And now I think there are about 8 or 9 being made now. So I think I might wait until that passes and do it later”, he said. But isn’t now the best time to do that kind of film with studios green-lighting these kinds of projects?
“No, because I don’t want to be in that fucking running. It feels too much like palaver to be compared to this or that or the other. I try not to get involved in that kind of competitive filmmaking.”

However, as we know, Wright likes to work with a regular troupe of actors and actresses and with Saoirse Ronan previously featuring in “Atonement” and toplining this weekend’s “Hanna” we had to ask if she might be the mermaid too. “If we do it soon enough, definitely,” Wright said.

But where these projects may fall remains to be seen, and for now, are distant prospects. “Hanna” will hit theaters on Friday and this fall, Wright will begin work on “Anna Karenina” with Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Johnson along with new arrivals that we revealed yesterday, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly Macdonald.

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