Generally, Joel and Ethan Coen (a.k.a. the Coen Brothers) direct the scripts they penned, but recently they lent their writing talents to two other directors on a pair of historical, fact-based, dramas. The first is Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, which arrives this Christmas and tells the story of the late Olympian-turned WW II soldier (and then POW) Louis Zamperini. The other is a currently-untitled Steven Spielberg project that takes place around the peak of the Cold War.
Originally it was reported that the Coens were just polishing a script by Matt Charman on the Spielberg film. However, in the official DreamWorks press release – announcing the start of production on the project (which will shoot in New York and Berlin) – the Coens are credited for the screenplay, while Charman is noted for having delivered the original “pitch.”
Writing credit aside, the film was inspired by real history – namely, an incident where, during the Cold War, U.S. attorney James Donavan was sent by the CIA to negotiate the release of an American U-2 pilot who had been captured by the Soviet Union. Tom Hanks is playing Donavan in the film, which marks the fourth collaboration between the multi-Oscar winner and Spielberg (their third period piece too, after Saving Private Ryan and Catch Me If You Can). Other cast members include the Academy Award nominees Alan Alda (The Aviator) and Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), as well as English thespian Mark Rylance (Bing).
It’s been two years since Spielberg released Lincoln – a project that blended timely political theater with more intimate biographical elements – in theaters. That film snagged two Oscars (including a win for Daniel Day-Lewis’ lead performance as the eponymous U.S. president) and grossed $275 million worldwide, demonstrating that Spielberg still has the magic touch – both at the box office and as a critically-acclaimed storyteller – as he keeps busy as ever, even now that he’s nearly 68 years old.
Spielberg will make up for time lost while he decided on his next directorial feature after Lincoln – having delayed the sci-fi thriller Robopocalypse and given thought to a West Side Story remake along with other projects (see: Montezuma) – by first releasing his Cold War film in late 2015, followed by a big-budget live-action cinematic adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children book The BFG in Summer 2016.
Meanwhile, the Coen Brothers will be shooting their 1950s Hollywood satire Hail, Caesar! reuniting them with George Clooney, and that project is moving along steadily right now – enough so that it should reach theaters by the last quarter of 2015 (like Spielberg’s film). Indeed, there’s a lot to look forward to over the next couple of years if you’re a movie geek, no matter what your preferences are.
Spielberg’s untitled Cold War Spy Thriller opens in U.S. theaters on October 16th, 2015.