Star George Clooney was understandably taken with the gorgeous countryside and ancient architecture of Italy while filming the overseas thriller The American - enough so that he's agreed to appear in another engaging drama set in the country, titled The Monster of Florence.
Fox 2000 has acquired the rights to the real-life crime novel The Monster of Florence and has fashioned the cinematic adaptation as a starring vehicle for Clooney, who will work form a script by Valkyrie co-writers Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander.
The bestseller was jointly written by American author Douglas Preston and Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi. It recounts the pair's efforts to solve a 30-year old serial murder case concerning seven couples who were brutally killed between 1974 and 1985 just outside the city of Florence - a case long since abandoned by local authorities, who were less than taken with the authors' investigation. Deadline claims Clooney has essentially made Italy his second home - and will star as Mr. Preston himself.
Clooney will begin production next month on his latest directorial effort, an adaptation of Beau Willimon's political play Farragut North (now titled The Ides of March). He will presumably shoot his small role in Alfonso Cuarón’s 3D sci-fi thriller, Gravity, shortly thereafter and then set out to star in Monster of Florence. By that point, the project will likely have snagged a director as well.
While McQuarrie's last screenplay was, appropriately enough, another "American gets in over his head" thriller, The Tourist, which is currently playing in theaters around the globe. He's still best known as the Oscar-winning scribe responsible for The Usual Suspects and Monster of Florence will likely play out as a twisty crime procedural more similar to that pic.
An Oscar-winner in his own right, Clooney has expanded his acting repertoire over the past several years and taken on a number of roles that required him to play more than just a silver-haired charmer. He put on some 30 pounds and a beard for his award-winning supporting turn in Syriana; played a boozing, morally corrupt "fixer" in Michael Clayton - and while his performance as a methodical hitman in The American hasn't earned much attention this awards season, it's arguably one of Clooney's best to date.
The Monster of Florence will likely find Clooney playing a smooth, crafty type that is familiar enough with both fictional and real-world crime, capable of attempting to solve an actual case himself. It's an intriguing story and one that could feature some clever and unexpected turns - despite the fact that moviegoers will have more than an inkling of how it is ultimately going to work out.
While it won't be The Usual Suspects/Valkyrie helmer, Bryan Singer (he's currently prepping Jack the Giant Killer), expect a director to sign on for The Monster of Florence in the near future.