The writer of American Sniper is now working on a George Washington movie biopic. American Sniper, the biopic of the late Chris Kyle (America’s most prolific sniper and adapted from his memoir of the same name), was a huge hit with conservative audiences, but also showed nuance that was appreciated by some more liberal critics. Starring Bradley Cooper, who also executive-produced, the film was to be directed by Steven Spielberg, who departed the project shortly before shooting and was replaced by Clint Eastwood.
As American Sniper passed from one legendary director to another, its screenwriter was Jason Hall, an obscure former actor - he played Devon MacLeish on Buffy the Vampire Slayer - who had only two writing credits to his name at the time, but walked away with an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Hall also wrote and directed another film about PTSD and the Iraq War, the upcoming Thank You For Your Service, and now there’s word about his next film.
Jason Hall will direct a biopic of George Washington called The Virginian, as reported by Deadline. The film set up at New Line, will adapt a previous screenplay by Michael Gunn, and is described as “Last of the Mohicans meets There Will Be Blood.”
While the father of our country and the first president of the United States has been depicted in various films over the years, there’s never really been a definitive screen portrayal of Washington. Popular culture’s most notable depiction of Washington in recent years wasn’t even a movie - it’s the African-American George Washington who sang of his “right hand man” in the popular Broadway musical, Hamilton, where Christopher Jackson originated the role. Darren Aronofsky was working on a Washington movie five years ago, but it was never made.
Can a Washington movie succeed? Led by Hamilton and various bestselling books by historians, we are certainly in a period of high interest in the founding fathers and the American Revolution. Washington’s story is a fascinating one - and in putting together the film, Hall will have a lot of historical record to work with.
What’s the drawback? One must merely watch the news this week to see: This is also a time in which long-ago historical figures who owned slaves, as Washington did, are being looked at especially harshly. Hall and the other filmmakers will need to find a way to finesse this question, if this biopic is going to have any hope of avoiding backlash.
There’s no word on a release date for The Virginian yet, but stay tuned on Screen Rant for more information.