It’s been a rocky couple years for Jeffrey Dean Morgan. After starring in a number of commercial and box office fizzles (Red Dawn and Possession), Morgan may finally be getting material that he can sink his teeth into in the upcoming border-crossing thriller Desierto, from Jonás Cuarón. After a busy 2013, having co-written Gravity and directed its short sister film, Aningaaq, production is ramping up on Cuarón’s sophomore feature, a thriller that follows a group of illegal immigrants confronted with a racist man (Morgan) who takes border security into his own hands.
With a logline like that, Desierto could become one of the year’s most politically and morally challenging films, or a piece of mindless action thriller fare. Either way, Morgan is a fantastic choice for the film’s villain. His performances in Watchmen and the prematurely cancelled Magic City prove he’s capable of shouldering complicated, nuanced performances, even when the material isn’t very good; however, in this case he appears to be in good company. Gael García Bernal of Motorcycle Diaries and Babel fame, stars as one of the immigrants who runs afoul of Morgan’s character. If Cuarón’s script is deft enough to get the most out of its leading men, Desierto could turn into something fascinating.
Desierto begins shooting next month in Baja, California. There’s no release date yet, but even if the film takes a while to complete, 2014 will be a busy year for Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He’s set to star in Solace with Colin Farrell and Anthony Hopkins, The Salvation with Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen, and The Rut with Ray Liotta.