EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has set John Logan to adapt the Walter Isaacson book Leonardo da Vinci as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the painter/scientist. DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are producing through their Appian Way banner. Paramount won the book last year following a multi-studio bidding battle. Logan’s recent screen credits include Genius, Specter, Gladiator and Skyfall, and this is his second collaboration with DiCaprio after he scripted the Martin Scorsese-directed Howard Hughes pic The Aviator.
Logan will write it while DiCaprio goes off to star in the untitled next film by writer/director Quentin Tarantino in their first teaming since Django Unchained. The da Vinci project is special for DiCaprio, who got his first name because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in a museum in Italy when the future star kicked for the first time. It seems like fate that the actor should play the artist who painted The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.
Logan has plenty to work with from Isaacson, who used Da Vinci’s notebooks to weave a narrative that connects his art to his science and voracious curiosity and imagination. Aside from his priceless paintings, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy (his iconic drawing of Vitruvian Man), fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology and weaponry. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions. According to the book, he also was a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted and at times heretical.
CAA-repped Logan is a top-shelf scribe, showing Paramount and Appian Way are serious about getting this one right.