EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in talks with Joel Edgerton to star in Shantaram, an adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel that is being produced by Inifinitum Nihil partners Johnny Depp and Christi Dembrowski, and GK Films’ Graham King. Following a couple of stalled attempts to get this movie up and running after the studio paid $2 million for the rights in 2004, Depp himself jump started the process by personally courting Edgerton to play a role Depp once intended to play before the film was derailed by the Writer’s Strike.
Edgerton is being courted for the lead role of a remarkable protagonist who, at the time the book became a sensation in Hollywood, was said to have been modeled after the author in a thinly veiled memoir. He starts as an Australian heroin addict who escapes a maximum-security prison, reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of India and eventually uses gun-running and counterfeiting skills to fight against the invading Russian troops in Afghanistan.
Edgerton, who most recently starred in The Great Gatsby and Zero Dark Thirty, is Australian-born and fits the model of the protagonist very well. The script is by Eric Roth. Back when Depp was going to star, Peter Weir was once set to direct. He’s long gone, and they will look for a director now. CAA and Shanahan Management rep Edgerton, UTA reps Depp. Sarah Schechter is steering the project for Warner Bros.