EXCLUSIVE: As he prepares to rev up the Edgar Wright-directed Baby Driver for tomorrow’s opening, Ansel Elgort has been set to play young president John F. Kennedy Jr in Mayday 109, the true story of the future American president’s feats of heroism as a Navy captain during WWII. The film is a co-production between Basil Iwanyk’s Thunder Road Pictures and Beau Flynn’s FlynnPictureCo. Elgort and Emily Gerson Saines will produce alongside Flynn and Iwanyk. The producers are beginning the search for a director.
The script is by Samuel Franco & Evan Kilgore. They scripted Keeper Of The Diary, the Fox Searchlight film about Otto Frank and Barbara Zimmerman’s struggle to publish the diary of Anne Frank, a film that just got Kenneth Branagh to direct and play Otto Frank.
Mayday 109 focuses on JFK’s extraordinary real-life nautical adventures as the captain of a PT boat that was attacked and sunk by a convoy of Japanese destroyers. This led to the young Kennedy’s involvement in one of the most dramatic rescues in Naval history. Elgort’s breakout turn came in The Fault In Our Stars. Iwanyk and Flynn confirmed the deal.
“We could not be more excited about Ansel coming aboard,” said Iwanyk. “Not only is he a tremendous actor, he embodies the charisma, athleticism and looks of a young JFK. We love that this is not a biopic nor a film about politics. This is simply a riveting and unbelievable tale that very few people know – about a young man who was a hero long before becoming the iconic 35th President of the United States. With Ansel, we’ve found our perfect JFK.”
Kent Kubena and Taylor Zea will oversee for Thunder Road. Scott Sheldon will oversee for FlynnPictureCo. Elgort is represented by CAA and Brookside Artist Management. The scribes are repped by Paradigm.
Thunder Road has upcoming the Taylor Sheridan-directed Wind River with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen; the Sicario sequel Soldado with Benicio Del Toro and James Brolin; the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon-directed The Current War with Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Tom Holland and Katherine Waterston; and the Dev Patel and Armie Hammer starrer Hotel Mumbai. FlynnPictureCo is in production on the Dwayne Johnson-starrer Rampage for New Line with Brad Peyton directing and then Flynn goes right into the Johnson-starrer Skyscraper for Legendary/Universal with writer-director Rawson Thurber.