The acclaimed fantasy novel Winter’s Tale may finally be reaching the screen, and if so, author Mark Helprin has two big name actors to thank for it.
Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend and, um, Batman and Robin) has been trying to set up an adaptation of Helprin’s novel for years as his directorial debut, and he finally got the go-ahead last year to start developing it.
Of course, many film projects can end up in the limbo of what is known around Hollywood as “development hell,” and that could easily have been the case here. But according to Vulture, Goldsman has “called in every favor he had” to snag Russell Crowe and Will Smith for roles in the film. Crowe is said to be in “negotiations” to play villainous gangster Pearly Soames, while Smith will take a smaller role as a judge.
Goldsman wrote I Am Legend, Hancock and I, Robot for Smith, as well as A Beautiful Mind for Crowe, so it’s not too unreasonable for him to ask his buddies to lend their star power to the project. It also apparently helps that Goldsman has somehow managed to get them involved and shave $20 million off a reported $75 million budget at the same time (maybe he should run for Congress).
If all goes well, the movie could begin shooting this fall and fans of Winter’s Tale—which follows a romance between a thief and a dying woman in an alternate version of 19th century Manhattan—will at last see their beloved story on the screen.