EXCLUSIVE: Joaquin Phoenix is the front-runner to play the mentor who teaches the 16th President how to kill bloodsuckers in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for 20th Century Fox. Phoenix has met on the project and I’m told that it’s his if he wants it. He would join Benjamin Walker, who last Thursday was set to play the title character in the Timur Bekmambetov-directed adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel whose producers include Tim Burton. It’s an encouraging sign that the fine actor might be returning to form after a surreal detour in I’m Still Here, the mockumentary directed by his brother-in-law Casey Affleck that purported to be Phoenix’s attempt to build a career as a rapper. While both Phoenix and Affleck initially maintained the docu was legit, they later acknowledged it was an artistic ruse. It was a waste of his considerable talent. From Gladiator, To Die For to We Own the Night and Walk the Line, Phoenix consistently turns in fascinating performances and this is a showy return role. The role is Henry, a mythic, ageless figure who turns Lincoln into an axe-throwing expert slayer of vampires. The pic’s produced by Bekmambetov, Tim Burton and Jim Lemley. Phoenix is cagey and could decide not to go forward. Stay turned to see if his deal makes. WME reps Phoenix.
EXCLUSIVE: There are few hotter projects in Hollywood right now than Twentieth Century Fox’s macabre 3D Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel (he also wrote the script) that will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Timur, Tim Burton, and Jim Lemley. The studio has set a June 22, 2012 release for the film and has been focused on casting since November. Now we can tell you the list of actors who’ll be screentesting for the role of young Abe Lincoln this week and next: Benjamin Walker, James D’Arcy, Adrien Brody, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Josh Lucas. It’s a very interesting mix of semi-knowns and unknowns, stage and screen vets.
Twentieth won the project after a hard fought auction that included Sony and Paramount and Universal and Summit. Bekmambetov and Burton liked it so much they used their own money to option the book earlier this year, and Fox had existing relationships with both filmmakers – Timur dating back to when the studio talent-spotted him in Russia and released his first movie Night Watch worldwide. The movie is a 3D re-imagining of Lincoln’s life that depicts the 16th president as an axe-throwing, highly accomplished killer of vampires
20th Century Fox didn’t waste time after buying the screen package Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Timur, Tim Burton and Jim Lemley. The studio has set a June 22, 2012 release for the film, which has a script by Grahame-Smith and is casting now.