Maybe it’s just symptomatic of everyone trying to get their piece of the pie, but Hollywood has an uncanny habit of producing oddly similar films back to back. The Prestige and The Illusionist. Deep Impact and Armageddon. More recently, White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. Actually, just go look at this list. A little weird, right?
Well, they’re at it again. In much the same way that 2004’s Ray and 2005’s Walk the Line were both biopics of mid- to late-20th century music icons, news that director Anton Corbijn is developing a James Dean biopic means that we will soon have dual biopics of mid-20th century movie stars. Cross Creek Pictures, the studio behind Black Swan, The Ides of March, and the forthcoming Rush, is currently developing its counterpart, a panorama of the life of Steve McQueen.
Details of the two mens’ lives are shockingly alike in many areas. Both were born in Indiana, and less than a year apart (McQueen in 1930, Dean in ’31). Both also had an affinity for motorsports outside their acting careers. Dean was driving to a car race when he was killed in a car accident in 1955, while McQueen’s affinity for motorcycles is well documented. Dean actually arrived at stardom before McQueen, although both broke through in the 1950s. Dean’s major hits, East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without A Cause (1955), and Giant (1956) all hit theaters as McQueen was making the move from New York to Los Angeles. McQueen’s first leading role didn’t come until 1958, when he starred in The Blob.
Corbijn and screenwriter Luke Davies (best known for 2006’s Candy, starring Heath Ledger and Geoffrey Rush) are reportedly focusing their film on James Dean’s friendship with photographer Dennis Stock, whose work helped launch Dean’s career. Corbijn is no stranger to biographies, either. Though probably best known for the 2010 George Clooney vehicle The American, Corbijn’s first feature, Control, was a biopic of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, and Corbijn directed several documentaries in the ’90s and early 2000s.
The Steve McQueen movie, meanwhile, will be the first feature for director Ivan Zacharias. It already has its McQueen in Jeremy Renner, who is best known for recent turns in The Avengers and The Bourne Conspiracy, but has already proved himself more than capable in meatier dramatic roles with a supporting actor Oscar nomination for The Town in 2010. The script is written by James Gray, scribe on Blood Ties and The Immigrant, both of which screened at Cannes this year to generally positive reviews.
There’s no news yet on when either film is headed to production, but we’ll be sure to keep you appraised as we learn more.