After years spent in development hell, it would appear that the cinematic adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ novel Birdsong finally has some traction. Last week, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes director Rupert Wyatt officially signed to direct his draft of the script, but the movie still needed a leading man. Step forward Nicholas Hoult!
He’s just enjoyed box office success with zombie rom-com Warm Bodies and will battle huge fantastical creatures this March in Jack The Giant Slayer. But Birdsong could be an even tougher challenge, especially given Eddie Redmayne’s popularity in last year’s BBC adaptation.
Hoult will play Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who lives in France in 1910, apprenticed into the textile industry. He falls for local married woman Isabelle Azaire, but though they elope, she eventually returns to her family. Faulks’ story then leaps around in time, hopping between 1916 during Stephen’s time fighting in the Battle of the Somme, and the 1970s, when his granddaughter investigates some family history.
Wyatt certainly seems to think he has the right man. "His great weight, depth and range as a fearless young actor allow us to explore this timeless story of a boy broken by a tragic love affair and what it means for young men to experience the real horror of war,” he says in a statement picked up by The Hollywood Reporter.
The director’s presence and Hoult’s casting are encouraging signs for the film, though no one should forget that it’s gotten to location scouting and pre-production before and has always shut down in the past. Backers Embankment Films are hoping that it’ll finally kick off shooting later this year in Belgium and Blighty.
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