Sources say negotiations are still in their early stages, but Hoult is the top choice to play the famed writer. Finnish director Dome Karukoski will helm the movie.
The film’s script by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford focuses on the author as he finds friendship, love, and artistic inspiration among a group of classmates prior to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. He served in the British armed forces from 1916 to 1920, then wrote the two novels while working at Pembroke College. Tolkien died in 1973.
Fox Searchlight and Chernin Entertainment have been developing the project since 2013. Tolkien’s epic novels served as the basis for the film trilogies “The Lord of The Rings” and “The Hobbit.”
“The Hobbit” was first published in 1937. Tolkien then wrote “The Lord of the Rings” between 1937 and 1949 as what was initially intended to be a sequel, but the story became much larger — and ultimately one of the best-selling novels of all time with more than 150 million copies sold.
Hoult will star as Nikola Tesla in “The Current War,” which will screen at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. He will reprise his role as The Beast in the Simon Kinberg-directed “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.” He’s repped by UTA and 42.