Although director Francis Lawrence has taken over for the Catching Fire and Mockingjay film adaptations, Jennifer Lawrence apparently enjoyed working with Hunger Games director Gary Ross. Well enough, in fact, that the two will be pairing up again to make a fresh big screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s sprawling novel East of Eden. The novel, first published in 1952, follows the interweaving stories of two families in California’s Salinas Valley in the early 20th century.
Lawrence’s role has yet to be revealed, though one of the most likely candidates is Cathy Ames, the story’s antagonist (though it’s a label ill-fitting to the story in all its nuance). The role would certainly push Lawrence’s versatility, as Cathy not only takes over a number of different personas (later she goes by Kate), but ages significantly over the course of the novel. Of course, given the complexity and length of the book, it’s possible that Cathy and the other characters (namely her one-time husband Adam, their two sons Cal and Abel, their cook Lee, and their neighbor Samuel) could be significantly revised in order to better fit a typical feature film runtime. A similar re-writing was done for the only prior feature film adaptation, a 1955 movie featuring James Dean, which focused more of its attention on Cal and Abel at the expense of Adam. If this is once again the case, Lawrence could very easily portray Abra, a well-to-do young woman who becomes a love interest of both brothers.
Gary Ross does have experience working on period pieces, having previously written and directed Seabiscuit, the true story horse racing movie which starred Tobey Maguire. No screenwriter has been attached to the project, but there’s a possibility that Ross, who is actually more of an accomplished writer than director, could handle the duties himself. Universal will produce the project, but it seems unlikely the production will get underway until Lawrence is finished filming the the two-part Mockingjay movie.