‘Rasputin’ Biopic in Development for Leonardo DiCaprio to Star

Published 2 years ago by

rasputin movie leonardo dicaprio Rasputin Biopic in Development for Leonardo DiCaprio to Star

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin – better known as just Rasputin – is quite the fascinating historical figure. The Russian mystic became an advisor to the Russian Imperial family, beginning in 1907 when Tsar Nicholas II invited him as a healer for their son Tsarevich (who suffered from hemophilia). The mysterious fellow has long shared the blame for the collapse of the Romanov dynasty, but he is perhaps equally infamous for his unwillingness to die – as he managed to survive being stabbed, shot (twice) and strangled in a single night, before finally drowning in the Neva River.

The film industry, as you would expect, has long had a ball with its portrayal of the sunken-eyed and bearded advisor. Some of his better-known onscreen renditions include that in Hammer Horror’s 1966 film Rasputin: The Mad Monk (which starred Christopher Lee) and the Disney ripoff style 1997 animated musical Anastasia, where he was voiced by Christopher Lloyd (with Jim Cummings performing his solo number, “In the Dark of the Night”).

Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. has acquired a pitch for Rasputin, a biographical film that (by the sound of it) will offer something of a more accurate take on its namesake’s life. The project is being fashioned with Leonardo DiCaprio in mind to play the “Mad Monk”; meanwhile, DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran will co-produce, alongside Kevin McCormick (Gangster Squad) and Peter Morgan (Identity Thief).

The pitch was originated by Jason Dean Hall, who has a deal to develop it into a full-blown script. Dean Hall’s previous writing credits include this August’s corporate thriller Paranoia (watch the new trailer), which stars heavy-hitting actor types Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. (It’s the Air Force One reunion that you never expected!). He also scripted the adaptation of Chris Kyle’s – the late Navy SEAL elite sniper – memoir, American Sniper, which has Morgan producing and Steven Spielberg attached to direct.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby 2013 Rasputin Biopic in Development for Leonardo DiCaprio to Star

Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Great Gatsby’

Hall’s recent script work must be fairly impressive, in order to gain the attention of so many Hollywood big-shots; indeed, Deadline is reporting that DiCaprio became interested in headlining Rasputin because of the “psychological depth” that the monk was given in Hall’s pitch. This presents another opportunity for the actor to carve out a complex and nuanced portrayal of a tortured real-life individual, after his award-nominated turns as Howard Hughes in The Aviator and J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar; not to mention, his next performance – as the real-world corrupt New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming adaptation, The Wolf of Wall Street.

DiCaprio, of course, is not Russian, but this fact seems unlikely to prompt too much grumbling – amongst the historical-accuracy crowd – if only because there’s a tradition of non-Russian actors playing the fellow onscreen. The larger concern is probably that Hollywood A-listers, in general, have earned themselves a bad reputation for failing hard whenever they attempt to pull off a convincing Russian accent.

That said, if anyone can manage the task, it’s probably the same man who played a despicable slave owner in Quetin Tarantino’s Django Unchained – and then, turned around to create a definitive portrait of Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. (Will someone just give DiCaprio his Oscar already?)


We’ll keep you posted on the status of Rasputin as more information becomes available.

Source: Deadline

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Rasputin
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  1. I have a feeling Leo will win his Oscar this year for Wolf of Wall Street. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

    I read some rumor that he’s in talks for a villain role in next year’s comic adaptation The Secret Service with Colin Firth. Be interesting to see if he takes that part.

  2. Worries about accent could be justified with his terrible South African dialect in Blood Diamond but I’m sure coaches will help in this case. After all, Angelina Jolie pulled off the most convincing English accent I’ve ever heard as Lara Croft (for an American actor/actress anyway, the Dutch, Australians and French are also pretty impressive with their attempts, I’m looking at Jaime Lannister in GOT and Cesare Borgia in The Borgias as examples).

    I think this will be the movie that gets Leo his Best Actor statue, especially if there aren’t any other big biopics released near awards season to compete.

    • Congrats on being the only person to actually criticize his South African accent from blood diamond. Everything I’ve ever read absolutely applauded his effort. For shame

      • Agreed.. People who r far more familiar with a S African accent than I am have praised his accent. After meeting someone with this accent, I fully agree that Leo did a great job.

        • I dunno, I must have known a lot more people that criticised it than actually liked it (not just personal friends and acquaintances but film critics too, his accent was widely panned where I live). South African friend I had once complained that it was terrible but she let him get away with it because she thought he was good looking and that made up for it.

    • Why would there be a need for an actor to have a Russian accent? This is not about a Russian who lived in Britain or the United States so he has to speak English with a Russian accent. Even if the actor can speak in English with a perfect accent, it would still be phony because Rasputin never spoke English with a Russian accent. If people want the movie to be really authentic and realistic, they should film the whole movie in Russian with Russian actors. If the film is in English they should not be concerned about accents at all.

  3. Leo should have won the Oscar for The Aviator. And wasn’t even nominated for Titanic.
    He seems to be getting better too so maybe the best is yet to come.
    His versatility and talent are beyond question.

    • I never actually rated him until The Departed and since then, I really enjoy the work I’ve seen (heard nothing good about J Edgar and The Aviator so I’ve avoided them).

      • I avoided J Edgar myself. The Aviator was good, not great, but Leo was great.

        • Yeah, I didn’t think much of J. Edgar as a whole, but Leo and Armie Hammer were pretty solid in it.

          • I thought the first half of J. Edgar was solid but after that if kind of fell apart. It just felt like to much info was being crammed into an hour or so of screen time.

        • Yeah, he’s always been the one shining moment people have mentioned about the movie, otherwise it’s been described as slow and plodding. I guess that’s the worry with biopics, some want to cram everything in and tell the whole story and others cut important events for the sake of run time.

          Then there’s the aspect of “will this do well overseas or should we keep it as a domestic release?”, which is why I think Bronson didn’t have as big a distrubution outside of the UK because nobody outside of our island has heard of him and why the US are the only ones to have seen 42 release this year because it’s an American thing (baseball isn’t as huge anywhere else other than Japan, nobody outside the US has heard of the player the biopic is about and we had racial integration decades before the Civil Rights Movement with Carribbeans and Indians coming over to the UK in the 1950s because it was seen as a land of opportunities).

        • J. Edgar was actually not all that bad–different, anyways.

          Speaking of rasputin, I once had a pet white rat named “Ratsputin” (“Ratsy” for short.).

  4. I have always said in the Past that Leo will get his Oscar when he will play the Lead in a Comedy. I guess that is what may happen… :)

  5. I like DiCaprio, but can not see him as Rasputin, at all.

  6. Adrien Body was born to play Rasputin

  7. What happened to the report of Leo taking a few years off after Wolf?


    • I thought the same. That didn’t last long, did it?

      In the end, I think, Leo gets so many
      offers it’s hard to refuse them all.

  8. Looking at that photo of Rasputin makes me think of bearded Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Just sayin’.

  9. Mads Mikkelsen is Rasputin all day long. He could be a great casting choice.

    • I would have to agree, KSlim. Mads sounds on the money.

  10. I think that DiCaprio is a great actor, in my opinion his best roles are those where he is the intense good guy, because in Django Unchbained he tries hard to be Hans Landa from Inglorius Basterds but fails in my, I really hope he wins an oscar for wolf of wall street

  11. Just wanted to point out that “Anastasia” was NOT a Disney film.

    • True, but I didn’t say it was a Disney film. I said it was a “Disney ripoff style” film.

  12. On the topic of DiCaprio’s Oscar Nominations or lack thereof…
    I don’t know what The Academy has against the guy but he should have a statue by now.
    I think it’s hilarious he was nominated for Blood Diamond because that was one of his worst performances IMO but not being nominated or winning for The Aviator, Django, The Departed or Shutter Island is absolutely ridiculous.

    • It started with Titanic where everyone else but him was nominated.

      Leo had a big teen following before that and because of that
      the Academy acted snobbish refusing to take him seriously.
      Now they seem to ignore him pretending they were right.

      • Just one of many reasons I don’t take The Academy seriously and only see them as the group that will define which movie will get a surge in DVD sales immediately after the ceremony, deservedly or not.

  13. There was nothing ‘mad’ about Rasputin. We know he was a healer, a champion of the underdog and downtrodden, and he was anti-war. He was especially horrified at the ethnic cleansing (pogroms) conducted by the military. It was a time when anti-Semitism was government policy, as evidenced by the laws restricting Jews to live in a certain area (The Pale of Settlement), barring them from educations and many occupations. The worst were the raids wherein entire towns of Jews were tortured and slaughtered.

    To be against war (this was during WW I) and to advocate equal rights for Jews (who were all considered spies and thieves) were stances that were considered treasonous by society. Even worse, Rasputin had many progressive ideas for economic and social reform that threatened the nobility.

    Read “RASPUTIN: The Memoirs of His Secretary” by Aron Simanovitch, just translated into English and annotated for historical accuracy. Rasputin was a wild guy, but not the monster the aristocracy tried to depict him as. The demonic myth is based on the rumors the nobles spread to discredit him.

  14. This actually really interests me. I look forward to a hopefully good film.

    The film Nicholas and Alexandra features one of the many creepy Rasputin portrayals. Not sure how much historical accuracy it has, but it’s a great sweeping epic about the Romanovs.

  15. I have already seen a great Bio movie about Rasputin starring Alan Rickman find it …….http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117442/

  16. This film will be as much about Leo as it will be a bio of Rasputin. More on that in a moment.

    Nothwithstanding other actors who have played the role, or those who should be playing the character presently, Mads Mikkelsen perhaps more than any of his contemporaries was born to portray the “not-at-all-mad” healer.

    I say “was” because unless the projects falls into Development Hell or goes into turnaround, DiCaprio has a lock on this one. That said, Warner Bros. and Appian Way have the gold — and a screenwriter busy scribbling the script — so all speculation on this project stops here.

    As far as Leonardo DiCaprio and the Oscar is concerned: Clearly if Jennifer Lawrence can win over her weighty competition this past award season, while Leo can barely get nominated….

    A blind man can see that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have a bone to pick with the actor. If there’s any meat left on that bone, well, we’ll see.

  17. Dear and honorable member of the academy Please …..keep giving the bird to Leo !
    It’s hilarious how he s lining up all those drama, biopics and choosing parts against type. You can practically feel on the silver screen his desperation… One of of those days Hopefully he will finally break and go apeshit during an interview “so Leo great performance hailed by everyone once again : but was this part of a drug addict trapezist who fells in love with his monkey not too hard ? especially this scene where you get butt f…. by the jealous elephant? I heard you went method all the way.” ” yeah that’s true. Still can’ sit straight. But i dig this part and I wanted to impress the aca.” the nominations have just been announced … You’re out this year again not too disappointed? “Mmph t’s okay… Lot of great performance this year…Raaaaa love the academy” “that’s the spirit Leo! Still Channing tatum and the monkey got a nomination. One might w… ” Wwaittttt Channing f…… TATUM!!!! Ok that’s it! will you just give me my f….. Oscar you f…. d…. You think this is funny? You think this is FUNNY ?!!!! You v e been giving everyone nominations from Jonas hill to Jennifer Hudson

  18. No accent should be used in filming Rasputin as English speaking movie. It’s an idiotic Hollywood tradition that should be broken up in XXIc – Rasputin didn’t have an accent in Russian. Instead , there could be used this anachronistic/provincial version of English he spoke in Russian- will be much more believable and true to the character (he was a peasant, a low monk)


  20. Wouldn’t Liam Nesson be a better fit for the movie. At least Physically

  21. Apparently, the screenwriter thinks he’s uncovered some ‘new’ information about Rasputin,as other reports state that the script portrays Rasputin as a twin who’s brother died young. In all of Russia’s birth records, Rasputin’s mother is documented as giving birth to quite a number of children who didn’t survive, including a set of twins who died 4 days after birth. But Rasputin was not a twin. So, this script can only be taken as another fantasy about Rasputin.

    He also is going to portray Rasputin as ruthless (what a shock), which was not the case. Also, recent forensic studies show that Rasputin did not survive the gunshot to the head, and was somewhat affected by the cyanide. He was dead before they threw him in the Neva River. So much of his death has been crafted into myth.

    I think Robert Downey Jr would make a great flamboyant Rasputin. DiCaprio and Neeson are intense, but Rasputin was a fun-loving, flamboyant personality. And those actors don’t really exude those qualities.

    Check out http://therealrasputin.wordpress.com/ for real information about the real Rasputin.