James Gray is closing a deal to direct I Am Pilgrim, a film adaptation of the spy thriller novel by Terry Hayes. The original book was published by Hayes in July of 2013 and MGM acquired the film rights almost exactly a year later. MGM thereafter set Matthew Vaughn to bring I Am Pilgrim to the big screen, but the filmmaker wound up tackling another spy franchise altogether in the form of Kingsman. The I Am Pilgrim movie has been essentially stuck on the shelf since then.
Hayes' source material revolves around "Pilgrim", which is the code name the main character goes by. Adopted by a rich family in the U.S., "Pilgrim" was once the head of a secret espionage body before he retired and began writing for a living. However, when he discovers that his book on forensic pathology is seemingly being used by a killer to commit murders that cannot be traced, "Pilgrim" returns to the field in order to help solve the case. In doing so, he then gets himself caught up in a much larger and even more dangerous conspiracy.
Deadline is reporting that Gray is now set to direct I Am Pilgrim for MGM, drawing from an adapted script by Hayes. The latter scripted films like The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Vertical Limit before he began focusing more on writing novels. Hayes has already penned multiple books in the I Am Pilgrim series, so MGM is hoping that Gray's adaptation proves lucrative enough to justify moving forward with an entire Pilgrim movie franchise.
Hayes made his name as a screenwriter by penning high-octane action/thrillers across multiple genres, ranging from post-apocalyptic sci-fi action (in the case of Mad Max) to revenge drama (see 1999's Payback). I Am Pilgrim has similarly been praised by literary critics for its page-turning qualities and visceral storytelling elements that lend themselves to a film adaptation. With MGM reportedly considering selling the James Bond movie rights, it's possible the studio also sees I Am Pilgrim as a prospective replacement for their iconic secret agent property.
Gray's decision to attach himself to I Am Pilgrim is also an interesting development, where it concerns the direction of his career. After circling the CIA assassin drama/thriller The Gray Man in 2011, Gray eventually went on to tackle last year's true story-inspired exploration adventure The Lost City of Z instead. The storyteller will again spread his wings towards the end of this year with the Brad Pitt-led space exploration drama Ad Astra, making his spy thriller another intriguing addition to his increasingly eclectic body of work.
We will bring you more information on I Am Pilgrim as it becomes available.