EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has given a green light to Nebraska and has set a mid-October production start on the black & white film Nebraska, Alexander Payne’s followup to The Descendants. And while the road trip pairing of Bruce Dern and Will Forte seemed unusual when Deadline first reported that’s what Payne wanted two months ago, deals are now being closed with both actors to star in the film.
The $13 million budget film was scripted by Bob Nelson and Dern will play a crotchety alcoholic dad who receives a pro forma sweepstakes letter in the mail, thinks he’s struck it rich and wrangles his underachieving son (Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. As I reported, Payne has been very specific about who he wanted as his stars. An initial courtship of Gene Hackman did not coax the actor out of retirement, and then Payne came up with Dern, who is good in every movie. Neither Dern nor former Saturday Night Live cast member Forte have the star power of Payne’s Descendants lead George Clooney, but Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti didn’t either and both got career boosts from Payne’s Sideways. This is a big opportunity for both Dern and Forte. The film will be release Oscar season 2013.