The 1858 kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara is sparking serious Hollywood interest. Two dueling projects on the subject are reportedly in the works and both have the backings of two Hollywood heavyweights. In one corner, there’s Steven Spielberg who is slated to direct an adaptation of David Kertzer’s book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara early next year. Spielberg has a script from Tony Kushner (Lincoln, Munich) and actors Mark Rylance (Oscar winner for Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies) and Oscar Isaac sewn up. Now, Harvey Weinstein is reportedly set to make a competing film on the same subject, one which may star Robert De Niro (who can currently be seen on screen in Hands of Stone, another Weinstein film).
The true story centers around a six-year old Jewish boy in Italy who was kidnapped and consequently raised Catholic. As Mortara’s family attempts to retrieve their child, they run into conflict with the Papacy. Pope Pius IX plays a crucial role and is the part Rylance and likely De Niro will portray.
While Spielberg’s project was announced earlier this spring, it appears it was actually Weinstein who has been longing to bring this story to the screen for a much longer time. Nearly eight years ago, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Weinstein was making efforts to adapt Kertzer’s novel and at one point even sought Spielberg to direct – it may be unlikely to ever see such a powerful Hollywood pairing considering both were heated rivals in the infamous Oscar race that pitted Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan against Weinstein’s eventual Best Picture champ Shakespeare in Love.
Weinstein currently has Baltasar Kormakur (Everest) eyed to direct his project with a Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland) penned screenplay. He may also hold an upper hand on terms of start dates as a January production start is in the works while Spielberg (currently filming Ready Player One) looks to start production next spring.
Might we have another Weinstein/Spielberg feud for the 2017 awards race?