Universal Pictures has set Gavin and Greg O’Connor to write “Clark & Lewis,” a revisionist take on the explorers who were sent West by Thomas Jefferson in search of the mythical Northwest Passage.
Gavin O’Connor, who last helmed “Miracle,” will direct and Greg O’Connor will produce through their Solaris banner.
The O’Connors, who set up the pic in a pitch deal, feel there is an undiscovered epic in the story of the mismatched pair who left behind voluminous journals.
“They were this country’s first astronauts,” Gavin O’Connor said. “They were the first white men to really explore the West, the first white men the Indians had ever seen. We want to do an epic with humor and a buddy-picture quality.”
The deal is the second historical epic for the siblings, who signed on with Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey’s Icon to make “Boudica,” about the Brit who battled the Romans and was posthumously named Britain’s first queen. Pic is being rewritten by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal.
The Lewis & Clark story seems less dramatic than Boudica’s; Greg O’Connor noted the 200th anniversary of their expedition passed recently with little fanfare.
But the journals the duo kept testify to an uneasy relationship between the explorers and a mutual attraction to Sacajawea, their Native American guide, who was part of the caravan organized by Meriwether Lewis, a manic-depressive alcoholic who was Jefferson’s former secretary.
“Jefferson was convinced that the Northwest Passage existed and would open up trade from around the world,” O’Connor said. Lewis hired tough frontiersman William Clark as his partner.
U’s Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark will shepherd the project. Solaris also is producing “Pride & Glory,” a pic which Gavin O’Connor will direct from a script he wrote with Joe Carnahan, as well as “The Third Witch” at New Line.