Joaquin Phoenix attached to star in a long-gestating Gus Van Sant film

Joaquin Phoenix and Gus Van Sant

by James White |
Published on

Joaquin Phoenix and Gus Van Sant haven't worked together on a movie since 1995's To Die For, which helped kick Phoenix's career to a new level. But that collaborative drought might finally becoming to an end with a biopic of controversial US cartoonist John Callahan.

The artist's story is one seemingly tailor-made for the biopic treatment: diving into drink and drugs before he turned 18, an alcohol-fueled car accident left him a quadriplegic at 21. He met the challenges of his life and became a cartoonist unafraid to tackle tough subjects such as race and disability – even if meant calls to boycott him. His work was published in the New Yorker, Penthouse and Playboy among others, and he died in 2010.

John Callahan artwork example

Callahan published an autobiography, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot (named for one of his famous pieces) in 1989 and filmmakers have been trying to make a movie of it since then. Robin Williams was a particular fan, and had been trying to get the film version made for several years, with Van Sant first approached about directing it in the early 2000s. But it never came together. Now, though, Anonymous Content and Iconoclast Films are trying to put the pieces together at last and seems closer than ever. It's not the first time that the actor and director have tried to reunite, though – Phoenix was to play the lead in Van Sant's The Sea Of Trees before dropping out, and given the savage critical and poor commercial reception of that one, he might be happy he never ended up starring.

Matthew McConaughey voyaging to The Sea Of Trees

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