EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight is in final talks with Tom Hardy to star in Animal Rescue, and is offering the female lead to Noomi Rapace. Searchlight is eyeing a March start date in New York for a film that was scripted by Gone Baby Gone author Dennis Lehane from a short story first published in the collection Boston Noir. Animal Rescue will be directed by Michael R. Roskam, whose breakout film Bullhead was a nominee for Best Foreign Language film last year. He was set earlier this fall. Chernin Entertainment is producing.
The drama focuses on a man who wants to shed his criminal path but somehow gets mixed up in a bad heist and a killing resulting from a lost and contested pit bull. As he has done with all his books, Lehane set the short story in the outskirts of Boston. But so many movies have been set there lately–including his Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island–that they’ve relocated the action to New York. The project originated at Fox 2000, but later moved over to Searchlight, and numerous pedigreed directors have circled it over the past two years. Hardy sparked to the chance to create the character and work with a director whose film he admired.
It’ll be next for Hardy, who has other projects lined up for later. They include Splinter Cell at New Regency; he is producing with Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio two separate projects at Warner Bros on the poaching of wild animals. Hardy is attached to star in one of them: a Sheldon Turner-scripted drama in which Hardy will play a former Special Forces soldier who signs on with a friend to work in the bush, training rangers to fight off the poachers decimating the rhino and elephant populations in Zimbabwe. The second film is a Traffic-like dissection of the trafficking industry that exploits the global market for illicit parts from slain animals that are used as aphrodisiacs and other ridiculous purposes. This film might involve Maguire, DiCaprio and Hardy in onscreen roles. Hardy is separately attached to play fabled British climber George Mallory and his quest to become the first man to scale Mt. Everest. That film, Everest, will be directed by Doug Liman at Sony. All this action comes after Hardy played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and completing Mad Max: Fury Road, and it’s what happens when Hollywood decides you’re the next big star.
Rapace most recently starred in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and the Brian DePalma-directed Passion, latter of which made its debut at the New York Film Festival. Hardy’s repped by CAA, Rapace and Roskam by UTA, with Rapace managed by Magnolia Entertainment and Roskam by Anonymous Content.