EXCLUSIVE: Joaquin Phoenix is in early talks to join the cast of Palme d’Or-winning French director Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers. The project is an adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s Gold Rush novel about brothers Eli and Charlie Sisters, who are hired to kill a prospector who has stolen from their boss in 1851 Oregon.
Already confirmed in the cast is John C. Reilly, whose production banner optioned rights to the book, which won the 2012 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humor writing.
Audiard won Cannes’ top prize last year for Dheepan, his powerful tale of a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris — only to find himself drawn back into a life of violence at a local housing project. With his characteristic porkpie hat, Audiard has established himself as one of the most distinctive cinematic voices working. His credits include The Beat That My Heart Skipped, a remake of James Toback’s 1970s cult favorite Fingers with Harvey Keitel, which arguably surpasses the original, as well as breathtaking crime drama Un Prophete.
This would mark the second eye-catching project courting Phoenix’s involvement in recent days. On Friday, Deadline broke the news that the mercurial actor is being eyed to play Jesus Christ in Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene opposite Rooney Mara. That project is being put together by The King’s Speech producers See-Saw Films, with Universal aboard for international and the Weinstein Co. taking domestic.
Phoenix was recently was seen in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man and is set to star in Casey Affleck’s Far Bright Star as aging cavalryman Napoleon Childs, who leads a team of men to hunt down Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, only to find himself ambushed and left to survive in the desert. He is repped by WME and Sloane Offer.
The Sisters Brothers is being produced by Michael De Luca, Pascal Caucheteux, Rosa Attab, Alison Dickey and Reilly.