Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in early talks with Garth Davis to make his narrative feature directing debut on Shantaram, the adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that has Joel Edgerton attached to star and Inifinitum Nihil partners Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski producing with GK Films’ Graham King. Davis is an Australian helmer who was Emmy nominated for Top Of The Lake, five episodes of which he directed with Jane Campion. The mini premiered at Sundance. This is quite an ambitious move, taking on Shantaram so early in his run as a filmmaker. It’s pretty sprawling stuff. The film has been with Warner Bros since the studio paid $2 million for screen rights in 2004, back when Depp wanted to star, only to see the film stall and fall apart because of the writers strike. Depp recently jump-started the process as producer by personally courting Edgerton. The lead character starts out as an Australian heroin addict who escapes a maximum-security prison, reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of India and eventually uses gun-running and counterfeiting skills to fight against the invading Russian troops in Afghanistan.

The script is by Eric Roth. Back when Depp was going to star, Peter Weir was once attached to direct. Well they got themselves another Aussie on the Barbie. Sarah Schechter is steering the project for Warner Bros and Davis is repped by UTA.