After an unsuccessful attempt to collaborate on Hollywood legend James Dean, Michael Mann and Leonardo DiCaprio have pacted with Disney to team on a biopic of another larger-than-life figure, Howard Hughes.
Mann’s Forward Pass has a production pact at Disney, which has commissioned John Logan to draft the screenplay about Hughes, the once-dashing billionaire aviator who squired Hollywood actresses before declining into a germophobic recluse.
Logan most recently scripted the Oliver Stone gridiron drama “Any Given Sunday” and “RKO 281,” about the struggles over production of the film “Citizen Kane.”
While rumors of other creative and financial participants have surrounded the Mann-DiCaprio Hughes project, Disney is the only studio now involved, though sources didn’t rule out the possibility of a partner being brought on at a later date.
Although Logan is at work on the script, it’s doubtful that the Hughes biopic would be ready any time soon for DiCaprio, who just starred in the Danny Boyle-directed adaptation of “The Beach” for Fox.
DiCaprio and Mann have long wanted to work together, since the time they nearly teamed on a Warner Bros. biopic of actor Dean.
If the two can’t wait for the Hughes project to work together, they may turn to another one with which they have been aligned, “The Inside Man,” produced by Harry Ufland and Mann at Touchstone. Mann wrote the script, a fact-based father-son story involving police and politics, before he immersed himself in “The Insider,” his latest pic, about tobacco whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, which stars Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. The newly titled “Insider” will be released Nov. 5.
DiCaprio isn’t the only thesp who wants to play Hughes. One rival project is set up at Universal with Allen and Albert Hughes attached to direct and Johnny Depp to star. That project is based on “Empire: The Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes,” a book by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele. At the time this project was set up, it was supposed to be scripted by Terry Hayes, who wrote “Fahrenheit 451” and “From Hell.” The latter is the Jack the Ripper project the Hughes brothers are developing at Fox.
Warren Beatty has also long harbored aspirations to play Hughes, though there’s no indications he’s working on anything at the moment, while a final project, the David Koepp-scripted “Mr. Hughes,” about Clifford Irving’s fabricated autobiography of Hughes, is apparently dead, though Nicolas Cage at one time wanted to star for director Brian De Palma.