Angelina Jolie just found the lead for her second directorial work, Unbroken. The film is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 New York Times best-seller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, and follows the true story of Louis Zamperini, a high school track star and eventual Olympian in the 1936 Berlin Games, who survives treacherous conditions and daunting odds after his Air Force plane crashes in the Pacific in 1943. For 47 days Zamperini lived without food or water and braved both shark and aerial attacks before reaching Japanese shores and being taken prisoner for two years.
Jack O’Connell, best known for his role in the British series Skins, is slated to play Zamperini in a script originally written by William Nicholson (Gladiator) and Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra), but redrafted by No Country for Old Men scribes Ethan and Joel Coen. There was talk of putting a more well-known actor in the lead, someone along the lines of Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) or Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but due to the budget the studio opted to screen test instead. O’Connell beat out up-and-comers Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) and Alexander Dreymon (Resistance), among others, to portray Zamperini.
Jolie has certainly picked a serious and compelling subject for her sophomore directorial effort and perhaps, with the writing talents of the Coen brothers, Unbroken will fair better than her first film, the politically-charged romantic drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, which received mixed critical reviews.
Unbroken is set to release Christmas day 2014.