EXCLUSIVE: In one of the first major deals coming together as Scott Stuber takes the reins as head of Netflix feature films, the director and stars of Hell Or High Water are in final talks to re-team in Outlaw King, an epic period drama that will tell a different version than Braveheart did on Robert The Bruce, the king who led his country to freedom from the oppressive rule of England in Scotland.
Netflix isn’t commenting, but I’ve heard the plan is for David Mackenzie to direct, with his Hell Or High Water star Chris Pine finalizing a deal to play the Scottish king. Ben Foster is in talks to play James Douglas, the Scottish knight who became the king’s chief adviser. Bash Doran (The Looming Tower) wrote the draft. Sigma Films’ Gillian Berrie is producing with Anonymous Content’s Richard Brown and Steve Golin. The film is slated to shoot in Scotland in August.
Mackenzie, Berrie and Brown hail from Scotland, and it sure sounds like this is an act of national pride for them to restore some of the luster for the nationally revered Robert The Bruce that was missing from the Best Picture-winning Braveheart. There, Robert the Bruce came across as a privileged brat who was manipulated by his power-hungry leper father into betraying William Wallace, before coming around and leading Scotland to freedom after Wallace was drawn and quartered by England King Edward I. William Wallace will have a place in Outlaw King, but in this story, Robert the Bruce casts aside the comfortable trappings of his upbringing to stand up for his countrymen in a long campaign. He defied the Brits and the Catholic Church and ruthlessly consolidated rule among the squabbling noble elite of Scotland, finally rallying the forces necessary to turn back Edward II’s considerable armies to free Scotland. There is also a major love story in the film, between the king and his Queen, Elizabeth de Burgh, daughter of an England-friendly Irish noble who helped Robert The Bruce form the backbone needed to eradicate the Brits.
Since his well-reviewed work in the Taylor Sheridan-scripted Hell Or High Water, Mackenzie has been in high demand, and was rumored for several big directing assignments. Recently that included The Brotherhood, a package that had Michael Fassbender and Margot Robbie circling, along with several suitors. But Outlaw King has been a longtime passion project for Mackenzie, and he wanted to reunite with Pine and Foster, who turned in career performances in Hell Or High Water. Netflix sparked to make the film immediately, enabling a late summer production start when the Scottish days are long, before it gets dark around 4 PM in late autumn.
The Brotherhood could happen later, but sources said Outlaw King will be the filmmaker’s next outing. It seems exactly the kind of ambitious film that Netflix is shooting for, lining up favorably alongside pics like the Brad Pitt-starrer War Machine, the Will Smith-starrer Bright and possibly the Martin Scorsese-directed The Irishman with Robert De Niro starring.
Mackenzie is repped by UTA and United Agents, Pine by CAA and John Carrabino, and Foster by UTA. Doran is repped by UTA. Stay tuned.