Michel Hazanavicius Frees Will

Artist director circles Hollywood comedy

His immediate follow-up to The Artist is war-torn drama The Search, but director Michel Hazanavicius looks set to lighten up again afterwards. He's currently got his eye on Will, a quirky comedy that's been lying dormant at Paramount for a couple of years.

The screenplay, by Late Night With Conan O'Brien writer Demetri Martin, revolves around the high concept that every person in the world has their life written and dictated by their own personal angel. The hook, however, is that Will's angel suddenly up and quits, leaving our hero, at the age of 34, free to do what he wants, any old time. The title has a dual meaning then: Will is the protagonist, but the film's also about free will. Do you see what they did there?

This is a project that, a couple of years ago, appeared to be moving ahead at full speed. Little Miss Sunshine's directors Valerie Ferris and Jonathan Dayton were on board; Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were producing under their Gary Sanchez banner; and Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis were set to star: Rudd as Will and Galifianakis as his recalcitrant guardian.

It's not entirely clear why the film originally crashed. There were rumours of screenplay issues, but Galifianakis called it "one of the better scripts I've ever read" and seemed truly crestfallen that it had fallen by the wayside. You'd think that would mean he might return, schedule permitting, to the revivified version. Whether that's true, and whether Rudd and the Sanchez boys will also come back, remains to be seen.

Hazanavicius' The Search, meanwhile, will star The Artist's Berenice Bejo, and is currently in pre-production. The release is tentatively pencilled in for sometime next year.