Louis Zamperini has an amazing story to tell, and Angelina Jolie, Universal Pictures, and Walden Media are bringing it to the big screen as the feature film, Unbroken. Taking her talents behind the camera, this is Angelina’s first time directing a big budget studio film.
Jolie’s directing credits include the 2007 documentary, A Place In Time, and the 2011 In The Land Of Blood And Honey. After reading Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s (Seabiscuit), biography of Louis Zamperini that has been on the New York Times bestseller list for the past two and a half years, Jolie immediately began fighting for the opportunity to direct the film. “I was so moved by Louis Zamperini’s heroic story”, said Jolie. “He is truly a man of immense humanity, faith, and courage”.
Originally, Frances Lawrence (I Am Legend, Water For Elephants, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), was on board as director, but that was back in December, a lot has changed since then.
Unbroken had two early drafts, one penned by Richard Gravenese (Beautiful Creatures) and the other by William Nicholson (Gladiator, Les Miserables), before Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, No Country For Old Men) were tapped to write the current script.
Universal bought the movie rights to Zamperini’s life story in 2011. As a teenager from LA, Zamperini ran in the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he met Adolph Hitler. He didn’t win, but was planning to return to the Japanese Olympics in 1940, instead he joined the World War 2 war effort and became a bombardier with the U.S. Air Force.
In 1943, while flying with a B-24 bomber in the Pacific Islands, a mechanical failure brought his plane down into the high seas. Of the twelve soldiers in the aircraft, only Zamperini and two others survived , spending 47 days on a raft, fighting off sharks, eating raw fish, and collecting rain water, before washing up on the Marshall Islands. They were captured by the Japanese and spent the next two years being tortured as P.O.W.’s, until the end of the war.
An open casting call was held in February for the male lead. Screenrant reports that Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, Lawless), is the front runner, with Alexander Dreymon (Resistance), and Jack O’Connell (Skins), still in contention.
Louis Zamperini is 96 years old. This past Memorial Day he rode a float in the LA parade.
Unbroken is scheduled to begin shooting in September.