While Brad Pitt has spoken in the past about his retirement from acting (maybe as early as 2014), you wouldn't guess it from his recent workload. This year alone, the A-lister is headlining the much-debated zombie blockbuster adaptation World War Z, playing an important supporting role in director Ridley Scott and writer Cormac McCarthy's The Counselor, and making an appearance in Shame director Steve McQueen's true-story drama 12 Years a Slave, which opens just in time for an Oscar qualifying run during 2013.
If that's not enough, Pitt has now lined up his next starring role in Fury, a WW II-set thriller written and directed by David Ayer - the screenwriter on Training Day and Fast and the Furious, as well as the filmmaker responsible for Street Kings and End of Watch.
Deadline is reporting that Pitt has entered final negotiations to star in Fury, which follows the eponymous tank and its American crew as they battle on against desperate members of the German Army just before the war officially concludes in 1945. Bill Block and Ethan Smith (Texas Killing Fields, Alex Cross) are producing alongside John Lesher (End of Watch), with filming slated to get underway by this September.
Ayer will make Fury his followup to next year's Arnold Schwarzenegger-headlined thriller Ten, on the promise that his WW II thriller will "bring a fresh execution to the genre... This will have incredible, visceral action and complex rich characters. I plan to bring tank combat to life in a way that lands with a modern audience.” That seems like a tall order, considering how played-out the WW II genre is; though, Ayer is as good a candidate to meet that challenge as anyone, especially should he use similar quasi-experimental filmmaking techniques like he successfully put to use in End of Watch.
Pitt and Ayer have worked in the WW II genre before - with the former having appeared in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and the latter having scripted the submarine thriller U-571 - and it sounds as though Fury could fall close to the feel and structure of Ayer's previous work in that arena, which is welcome news by me (since I found U-571 to be an engaging war story).
Fury by the sound of it, will have a stronger personal touch and creative purpose, along the lines of Ayer's Dark Blue script and his writing/directing efforts Harsh Times and End of Watch. Indeed, as some of our readers have noted, Ayer tends to switch back and forth between personally meaningful projects and those which have better commercial (re: box office) prospects.
Ten was written by Skip Woods (the screenwriter on Hitman and A Good Day to Die Hard), so that suggests we'll be due for a more artistically-worthwhile project from Ayer by the time Fury rolls around (consider that my figurative mic drop).
We'll keep you posted on Fury as more information becomes available.