Christopher Nolan is a man who dreams big (literally, in Inception) and he plans to continue upping the ante once he completes the final entry in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. So what better way to follow up a fictional story about a psychologically traumatized billionaire than to make a film about an actual billionaire with crippling mental problems?
That’s reportedly what Nolan has in mind, as it seems he wants to resurrect a long-planned Howard Hughes biopic that was shelved after Martin Scorsese teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio to bring the famed aviation genius to life on the silver screen back in 2004.
Vulture says that the big difference between Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated work, The Aviator, and Nolan’s project is that the latter would explore Hughes life primarily after 1947. Whereas moviegoers only got a glimpse of the unbridled madness that eventually took control of the man in Scorsese’s film, Nolan wants to explore that portion of Hughes’ existence in full, as chronicled in author Michael Drosnin’s 1985 novel “Citizen Hughes: The Power, the Money and the Madness.”
While The Aviator very much touched on Hughes’ obsessive-compulsive habits, including his extreme aversion to germs and increasingly isolated condition, Nolan wants to examine his truly disturbing and stranger-than-fiction antics in greater detail. Besides his bizarre personal habits (Hughes eventually refused to trim his hair and nails more than once a year, and would only wear tissue boxes on his feet), the fellow also spent millions on attempts to control the food industry in Texas or the quality of air surrounding him – not to mention, his drug addictions and strange dietary habits.
The destructive power of obsession is a recurring theme in Nolan’s films, as are male characters whose personal drive and ambitions often have detrimental effects on their lives in general. It’s no wonder then that a historical figure like Hughes would be of interest, since his story is essentially the ultimate cautionary tale about how a person who possesses great intellectual capabilities and work ethic can become their own worst enemy – and lose track of what mattered to them in the first place.
Fortunately Nolan has not proven to be that kind of man himself, and he’s just as qualified as anyone to take another stab at exploring the nature of Hughes’ character on the big screen. It also helps that, though Scorsese’s Aviator remains well-regarded, it’s not untouchable – as most cinemaphiles consider it a technically precise biographical motion picture as opposed to the definitive Hughes masterpiece. So there’s arguably room for Nolan to improve on what Scorsese did.
Nolan wouldn’t commence pre-production on his Howard Hughes project until after he finishes his final outing with the Caped Crusader, and the movie itself likely won’t reach theaters until 2014 at the earliest.
Meanwhile, The Dark Knight Rises next summer on July 20th.