Ewan McGregor will play a World War II prisoner of war who hatches a plan to use a cow to help him escape captivity and find his way across Germany to freedom. Marc Forster will direct “The Cow,” which is a remake of classic French comedy “The Cow and I,” with shooting set to begin in the fall.
WestEnd Films has boarded the picture and will introduce it to international buyers in Cannes. North American sales are being handled by Linda Lichter.
The original version, known in French as “La Vache et le Prisonnier,” was based on a novel by Jacques Antoine and directed by Henri Verneuil. Starring Fernandel, the film was a big hit locally in the late 1950s.
The English-language remake reunites McGregor with Forster after their recent collaboration on the upcoming Disney picture “Christopher Robin,” which will be released in the summer. The pair also worked together on 2005 movie “Stay.”
Forster optioned the remake rights to the movie more than a decade ago. He showed the script to McGregor towards the end of the “Christopher Robin” shoot and won the actor over. Forster told Variety that the film would give the “Trainspotting” star an opportunity to show his range: “Ewan is very well known as a dramatic actor and [has] always been great at that, but he is also very good as a physical comedic actor and he will also bring that.”
The script for “The Cow” comes from Bill Prady, the co-creator of hit U.S. TV comedy “The Big Bang Theory.”
McGregor will play Charlie Granger, a U.S. pilot who has joined Britain’s Royal Air Force and is flying bombing missions until he is shot down over Germany. His escape plan involves using a fake pass and a cow, Marguerite, to slip out of the farm. Along with his bovine companion, he makes off in the direction of France, some 200 miles away.
The odd couple’s epic journey finds them negotiating obstacles including inhospitable terrain, German soldiers and an amorous bull. Through their adventures together, Marguerite becomes Granger’s rescuer, confidante and companion. He ultimately has to choose either a path to freedom that will consign Marguerite to certain death, or a course of action that will save the animal that saved him.
“It’s a road movie in a sense and will have that pacing, and at the same time it is by nature comedic,” Forster said. “The backdrop is the reality of a war, and they come across moments and circumstances that remind you of that. But their relationship is very humorous, intimate and emotional.”
The movie is being produced by Lichther, Forster, Eric Kopeloff (“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”), Renee Wolfe (“Christopher Robin”) and Ludi Boeken (“Jappeloup”). McGregor is repped by UTA and attorney Robert Offer.
POPULAR ON VARIETY: