Variety is reporting that Matt Damon and Josh Brolin are in talks to join the previously announced Jeff Bridges in the Coen Bros.’ remake of the John Wayne classic, True Grit. On top of directing, the Coens have also written the script (as they do with virtually all their films) which is said to be more faithful to the original Charles Portis novel than the 1969 film.

Bridges was previously announced as being in talks to play U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (played originally by Wayne) and that appears to still be the case. If cast, Damon would play the lawman (called La Boeuf in the original, played by Glen Campbell) who teams up with Cogburn, while Brolin would play the man who kills a 14-year old girl’s father. The girl has yet to be cast.

Adding to writing and directing duties, the Coens will also produce True Grit alongside Steven Spielberg and Scott Rudin. Paramount is set to put the film into production next March for a release late next year.

I already had strong interest in the Coens’ True Grit, particularly with Jeff “The Dude” Bridges set to play the lead role. But adding talent like Damon and Brolin to the roster only heightens my anticipation for it. Brolin pretty much universally impressed people with his turn as the “hero” of the Coen’s multi-Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, and will be seen in comic book Western movie Jonah Hex next year. Brolin really is making a name for himself on the Western front (he also starred in the TV series The Young Riders in the early ’90s).

Damon is almost always great to watch, whether that be as the globe-trotting, ass-kicking Jason Bourne, or playing undercover criminal in The Departed. I look forward to him working with Bridges and Brolin – those three names alone (never mind the Coens) are reason enough to see the movie.

Update: IGN got a chance to ask Joel and Ethan Coen about their True Grit remake, in which they confirmed Matt Damon and Josh Brolin’s attachment. They also gave us some more info the plot, particularly emphasizing how it differs from the John Wayne original movie and is more in keeping with the Charles Portis novel. Here’s what the filmmaking duo had to say:

“Yes. Jeff, Matt and Josh, that’s true – something that you read in the trades that actually turns out to be true!”

“It’s partly a question of point-of-view. The book is entirely in the voice of the 14-year-old girl. That sort of tips the feeling of it over a certain way. I think [the book is] much funnier than the movie was so I think, unfortunately, they lost a lot of humour in both the situations and in her voice.”

“Another way in which it’s a little bit different from the movie – and maybe this is just because of the time the movie was made – is that it’s a lot tougher and more violent than the movie reflects. Which is part of what’s interesting about it.”

“I [Joel] don’t actually remember the movie too well, but I do remember it as being much more of a standard western, and the book is just an oddity. It’s a very odd book.”

What do you think of Matt Damon and Josh Brolin potentially starring in the Coens’ True Grit remake? Do you think another one should be made or should it be left alone?

As stated, True Grit is planned to go into production in March next year, with a late 2010 release being eyed.

Source: Variety (Weblog) & IGN (via FirstShowing)