Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s novel, The BFG, only just opened in theaters at the time of writing this. Nevertheless, the legendary filmmaker has already started production on another book-turned movie in the form of Ready Player One. And that’s not the only literary adaptation that Spielberg is actively involved with developing, either.
Spielberg currently has plans to begin filming The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara after he wraps principal photography on Ready Player One. Edgardo Mortara is a project that Spielberg has been loosely attached to since at least 2014, back when he was still planning to adapt Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse novel for the big screen. However, the Edgargo Mortara adaptation has only begun picking up speed this year, starting with Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Bridge of Spies and BFG star Mark Rylance signing on to play a role in the historical drama.
Variety is reporting that Oscar Isaac is in talks to play an as-yet unspecified role in Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara too, indicating that the deal is all-but officially done at this stage. Isaac’s career is very much on the up and up right now, as he continues to add more roles in blockbuster fare (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, X-Men: Apocalypse) and smaller-scale critical darlings (Ex Machina) to his resume. It’s only fitting, then, that he add a collaboration with a maestro like Spielberg to his to-do list, too.
Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara is based on David I. Kertzer’s 1998 novel of the same name, itself inspired by the real-life Mortara case. Here is the Amazon.com description of the novel:
Bologna: nightfall, June 1858. A knock sounds at the door of the Jewish merchant Momolo Mortara. Two officers of the Inquisition bust inside and seize Mortara’s six-year-old son, Edgardo. As the boy is wrenched from his father’s arms, his mother collapses. The reason for his abduction: the boy had been secretly “baptized” by a family servant. According to papal law, the child is therefore a Catholic who can be taken from his family and delivered to a special monastery where his conversion will be completed. With this terrifying scene, prize-winning historian David I. Kertzer begins the true story of how one boy’s kidnapping became a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power. The book evokes the anguish of a modest merchant’s family, the rhythms of daily life in a Jewish ghetto, and also explores, through the revolutionary campaigns of Mazzini and Garibaldi and such personages as Napoleon III, the emergence of Italy as a modern national state. Moving and informative, the Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara reads as both a historical thriller and an authoritative analysis of how a single human tragedy changed the course of history.
Spielberg is directing Kidnapping of Egardo Mortara from an adapted script by his Munich and Lincoln screenwriter, Tony Kushner, and is expected to start production on the project by early 2017. With a cast that already includes such heavy-hitters as Rylance and Isaac, fascinating real-life subject matter and the talent working behind the scenes, it’s easy to imagine Edgardo Mortara being fast-tracked for release next year in time for Oscars qualification (maybe a late December limited theatrical release before it goes into wide release in January 2018).
Meanwhile, Isaac will be reprising his role as Poe Dameron in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII next year and will appear in Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s next film, Annihilation (also expected to hit theaters in 2017). In other words, 2017 is shaping up to be a pretty great year for the acclaimed character actor.
The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara doesn’t have an official release date yet. We’ll let you know when that changes.