Not satisfied with co-hosting the 2011 Oscars and starring in one of our favorite movies of 2010 (the highest honor a film can receive, of course), James Franco is reportedly interested in bringing not one but two American literary masterpieces to the big screen: William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Early word from Showbiz 411 is that Franco could feasibly begin shooting As I Lay Dying as early as this upcoming spring and then would get the cameras rolling on Blood Meridian sometime in 2012.
Realizing Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying as a film is an intimidating prospect for Franco – or any director, really. The plot of the novel is structured in a stream of consciousness style and features no less than fifteen different narrators, all telling the tale of the Bundren family’s journey to bury their beloved mother in the town of her preference. Those multiple points of view and inner monologues are highly crucial to the structure of the story and the manner in which it unfolds.
Franco and his manager are reportedly in talks with the Faulkner estate for the rights to As I Lay Dying and have already contacted Fox Searchlight about financing the project. Whether or not Showbiz 411‘s claim that Franco himself says “this is the [project] he’s most attached to” is true, there’s little reason to doubt that what is considered one of the greatest novels written in the 20th century won’t eventually become a (hopefully) worthwhile motion picture as well.
The Playlist contacted No Country For Old Men producer Scott Rudin, who Franco has reportedly enlisted to help bring another violent McCarthy western (Blood Meridian) to theaters. Rudin heavily downplayed the story from Showbiz 411, but refrained from flat out denying the report – which could mean that it’s essentially a fabrication or largely exaggerates the progress that either he and/or Franco has made in terms of making the project a reality.
Fully titled Blood Meridian (or The Evening Redness in the West), McCarthy’s novel is set around the mid-19th century and revolves around “the kid”, a nameless young man speculated to be the famed U.S. soldier Samuel Chamberlain, whose time spent with the Glanton gang – an infamous pack of Native American killers and scalp collectors – makes up the bulk of the narrative.
Three of McCarthy’s novels – All the Pretty Horses, No Country For Old Men, and his Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Road – have already made the transition to film. A handful of acclaimed auteurs (including Ridley Scott and John Hillcoat, who directed the Road adaptation) have expressed interest in Blood Meridian before, but Franco may end up being the surprise candidate to secure the job. With the Coen Brothers’ True Grit having arguably resuscitated interest in the western genre, Blood Meridian‘s prospects of being made look all the better – even if the Franco story turns out to be a false trail (pun intended).
Either As I Lay Dying or Blood Meridian would mark Franco’s first time helming a major studio production, but not the actor’s directorial debut in general. The former Spider-Man franchise star recently finished directing an indie film about the poet Hart Crane, titled The Broken Tower, and was the main artistic force behind a handful of small shorts, as well as the Saturday Night Live making-of documentary, Saturday Night. So he may be up to the challenge after all.
Do you like the idea of Franco adapting either As I Lay Dying or Blood Meridian?