Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: William Monahan, the Oscar-winning The Departed scribe who made his directing debut on the upcoming London Boulevard, has found his next film. He’ll write and direct Becket, a new adaptation of the Jean Anouilh play that was previously turned into a 1964 film that starred Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton. That film, about the friendship and estrangement between King Henry II and the Archbishop of Canterbury, won an Oscar for scribe for Edward Anhalt and was nominated in 11 other categories.

Monahan is basing his film on the original text of the 1959 French play. He’ll produce with Smuggler Films’ Patrick Milling Smith, John Hart and Brian Carmody. They are raising the production financing and plan to start pre-production in the UK early next year. London Boulevard, which stars Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley, opens in the UK November 26 and opens in the US in February.

“It’s an adaptation, or re-invigoration, of an older play, which has already been a brilliant film,” Monahan said. “For me, it’s a chance to take on one of the greatest stories in our civilization, a double tragedy with two heroes, each of them paradoxical, each of them brilliant, each of them making mistakes that lead to their undoing. The world of the Plantagenets was very rich and we’ll open the play up into that world and go into the relationships of the Angevin court more than the 1964 film was able to do. To adapt something is to do a literary personalization of a story, so in that sense I’ll be doing a very different Becket.” The WME/Anonymous Content/Independent-repped Monahan just scripted The Falcon for GK Films, he’s writing Oblivion for Tron: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski at Disney and adapted John Grisham’s The Associate for Paramount and Tony Scott. He’ll also adapt Barry Unsworth’s Booker Prize winner Land of Marvels at GK Films.  Here is a recent trailer for Monahan’s directorial debut: