After his huge success as Cecil Gaines in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, 52 year-old Forest Whitaker is in final talks to write, direct, and co-star in Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment’s adaption of the best-selling novel The Shack by William P. Young.
Self-published by Young in 2007, The Shack follows Mackenzie Allen Phillips, a man whose youngest daughter was kidnapped and murdered in an abandoned shack during a family vacation four years prior. He receives a note from “Papa,” supposedly God, telling him to go back to the shack. Against his misgivings about this note, he returns and finds himself on a journey of truth, forgiveness and acceptance which changes his life forever. This book was a global hit and has sold more than 10 million copies since it was first published.
Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side) and Brad Cummings will be producing the film. John Fusco (Hidalgo, the forthcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II) will write the screenplay along with Whitaker. Lionsgate president Michale Paseornek will be overseeing the picture.
In addition to helping with the screenplay, Whitaker will also be directing The Shack. Whitaker’s directorial efforts have been few and far between, with the most recent coming ten years ago with First Daughter. He also helmed the 1998 romance Hope Floats and 1995’s Waiting to Exhale. Although his films have varied quite a bit in their actual plotlines, family drama does seem to be a touchstone for Whitaker, which could explain his interest in The Shack. This will be the first time Whitaker has worked as actor, writer, and director on the same project.
Of course, Whitaker has also had many endeavors in the acting business in 2013. In addition to starring in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, he has also starred in Out of the Furnace and Black Nativity, the latter of which has some religious underpinnings similar to The Shack. He also intends on joining Liam Neeson in Fox’s Taken 3.