We’ve seen Leonardo DiCaprio play more or less against type in both Django Unchained and Blood Diamond, but in both cases the actor, who still exists in the zeitgeist as a love struck youth in Titanic as much as in any of his other celebrated roles, played a generally suave fellow who turned to charming as quickly as action. That could change in the years to come as DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Bros. have partnered to buy King Harald, a script pitch from Mark L. Smith, writer of horror thrillers Vacancy and The Hole.
King Harald will present the story of 11th century Viking king Harald Hardrada, considered by some to be the last great viking king. Conveniently, his life’s story folds out into a very recognizable heroic journey structure: As a young man, Harald fought alongside his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson, King of Norway, against Danish King Cnut the Great, who had claimed their kingdom for himself. After a losing campaign, Harald was exiled. He spent the latter half of his teenage years through to his late twenties in Constantinople, fighting for the Byzantine Empire and amassing significant personal wealth in the process. Harald later returned to conquer and ascend to the throne of his home country, establishing a stable government and economy. He later died in the Battle of Stamford Bridge, trying to claim the throne of England. His death signaled the end of the Viking age.
For DiCaprio, it’s yet another project he’s producing and may star in, coming hot on the heels of announcements for both The Devil in the White City and Mean Business on North Ganson Street, not to mention the Rasputin biopic announced a couple months ago and JFK conspiracy tale Legacy of Secrecy, announced in late May. That final project actually seems the closest to moving into production at the moment, with Robert De Niro already attached to co-star, and David O. Russell on board to pen the script and direct. DiCaprio also stars in and produced Martin Scorcese’s next film, The Wolf On Wall Street, due out mid November, and is a producer on Runner, Runner and Out of the Furnace, both also out before year’s end.