EXCLUSIVE: In this tough marketplace, if you want to make another movie about a complex historical figure like Robert F Kennedy, you’d better bring to the table an actor with chops and bankability to excite a financier. Matt Damon does both those things. I’ve just heard that a deal closed at New Regency for an RFK film that has Damon attached, with Gary Ross directing and Steven Knight scripting. Damon will wait to see the script before we know whether or not the project will really happen. The film will be based on the Evan Thomas biography His Life, which Landscape Entertainment’s Bob Cooper optioned and will produce with Ross and his Larger Than Life partner Alison Thomas.
While Damon just played South African rugby star Francois Pienaar in Invictus, he has never played a real figure like Kennedy. The film will trace RFK’s transformation from the younger brother in the shadow brother President John F Kennedy to a strong national leader in his own right before he was gunned down in 1968. His assassination at the Ambassador Hotel was the backdrop for Emilio Estevez’s Bobby, and Chris Columbus and his 1492 partners are developing The Last Campaign on RFK’s presidential run. Ross, too, has long been fascinated with Kennedy and once optioned the Thomas book himself.
Knight, the Eastern Promises writer, just got hired by Columbia Pictures to adapt the Dan Brown novel The Lost Symbol. That came thanks to his work for the studio on Pawn Sacrifice, a drama about Bobby Fischer’s unlikely victory over Russian chess champ Boris Spassky. Tobey Maguire is producing and eyeing the Fischer role. Cooper, Ross, and Thomas were already collaborating on another U.S. history project, the Jack Greenberg-Thurgood Marshall story Crusaders, which they’ve set at HBO with Danny Strong writing the script.