With two consecutive Best Picture Oscar winners behind him (Birdman and Spotlight), Michael Keaton likely has the pick of the litter of terms of upcoming roles. It looks like Keaton will follow with the upcoming action thriller American Assassin for director Michael Cuesta (Kill the Messenger). Based on the novel by Vince Flynn, the film was penned by Stephen Schiff (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and is a co-production of Lionsgate and CBS Films.
In American Assassin, Keaton is attached to portray Stan Hurley, a Cold War vet whose deputy director assigns him with training a black ops recruit, Mitch Rapp (a role not yet cast), unsettled by the tragic loss of his fiancée in a terrorist attack. Rapp and Hurley are, consequently, tasked with thwarting a mysterious operative. American Assassin is among a popular (and New York Times bestselling) series of books Flynn has centered around the character of Rapp.
American Assassin seems a bit more of a commercial play than Keaton’s recent output. He last appeared on screen in Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, which weathered a contentious awards season run and recently won the Oscar for Best Picture. The year prior, Keaton made a significant resurgence with his Oscar-nominated leading role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s dark Hollywood comedy Birdman. That film also took home the Best Picture Oscar- the last major performer to star in two consecutive Best Picture winners was Russell Crowe, who headlined both Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001).
Before settling into action mode, Keaton has another potential awards run this year with The Founder. The biographical drama concerns Ray Kroc, founder of the McDonald’s fast-food chain. Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and co-starring Laura Dern (Wild), Linda Cardellini (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Patrick Wilson (Morning Glory), Nick Offerman (The Kings of Summer), B.J. Novak (Saving Mr. Banks) and John Carroll Lynch (Zodiac), The Founder is slated to open on August 5th, distributed by The Weinstein Company.
We will stay tuned to the latest on American Assassin.