Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hailee Steinfeld goes For the Dogs with Sam Worthington

Some news from Cannes on the Phillip Noyce adaption of Kevin Wignall's novel For the Dogs. The film, set to star Sam Worthington as Stephen Lucas, a hit man hired to watch over a teenage girl, gets his girl; True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld. I haven't paid attention to this one; I usually don't seek out thrillers and suspense for reading material although I almost always end up enjoying them. Especially when Publishers Weekly compares the author to John leCarre! Have you read it? Sounds good ...
"In this slim, fast-paced page-turner, Wignall returns to one of the themes of his well-received first novel, People Die-the sympathetic hit man who has, if not exactly a conscience, extended internal considerations of the moral implications of his trade. Stephen Lucas, a recently retired, emotionally stunted hit man, emerges from his Swiss hideaway as a favor to old friend Londoner Mark Hatto, who hires Lucas to surreptitiously guard his daughter, bright, extroverted Ella, while she's vacationing in Italy with her boyfriend. After Ella's entire family is murdered, Lucas foils several serious attempts on Ella's life, and the two of them form an odd, almost familial relationship. The boyfriend soon drops out of the picture as the hit man reluctantly helps Ella exact revenge on those who killed her family. There's plenty of action, but it's the twisting, turning, complicated relationship between Ella and Lucas that forms the core of this compelling novel. Most popular genre writers allow and even encourage the category elements-action, adventure, suspense-to subsume the literary ones, but Wignall concentrates instead on the questions of character and motivation that make for a deeper reading experience. The names le Carre, Simenon and recent British mystery author Mark Billingham come to mind, making this a blend of old and new masters wrapped up in an original, finely hewn effort. "
Sam Worthington seen here in Man on a Ledge
to star as Lucas, a 'retired ' hit man in For the Dogs
With the exception of The Debt in which Sam Worthington played the young David character, the thirty seven year old Australian actor has been in films and tv shows I'm not familiar with or that I just don't care about - Avatar,  Clash of the Titan, Wrath of the Titans.
 I did see Avatar once which was enough - astonishing visuals with no story - but can't remember what I thought of him. I did think he  was lovely in The Debt though; the entire cast
was; Jessica Chastain in particular. That's the extent of my Sam Worthington knowledge.

Hailee Steinfeld seen here in a scene from Romeo + Juliet
is the teenage girl Lucas is hired to protect.
Hailee Steinfeld, the precocious teenager, is in fact just sixteen so I hope they'll stick to the story line in the novel - I won't spoil it with the details but part of the tension is that Lucas wants to get back to his girlfriend and their child. Steinfeld hasn't had a thing on screen since her breakthrough in 2010's True Grit. Now, she has no less than ten -10- projects due to come out this year or next! Romeo+Juliet with the too pretty Douglas Booth is slated for July, Loveship, Hateship based on Alice Munro's kinda eponymous collection of short stories doesn't have distribution yet; the cast also includes Kristin Wiig, Guy Pearce and Nick Nolte - a bit of a hodge podge. Ender's Game will undoubtedly be BIG when it comes out in November and then as I said, she has what, seven more projects including this one in various stages of production. Side note: Steinfeld is currently filming The Homesman, a Tommy Lee Jones trinity; Jones stars, directs and co-wrote the screenplay based on the book by Glendon Swarthout. Jones as director? I would love to watch that; I imagine he's calm and business-like on set; consult with the pro's, rely on their advice and get the shot.

For the Dogs was adapted by hunky Paul Leyden
seen here as Simon Frasier in As the World Turns
The For the Dogs screenplay was originally written by Paul Leyden who, according to Deadline, optioned the rights to the novel with his own money; which they say is never smart. They being "they" not Deadline. Whoever they are, they might be right. Leyden is not only a writer, he's a hunky TV soap actor - Simon Frasier on As The World Turns, Blake on The Young & the Restless - who looks the part so strongly that it makes me wonder whether he optioned the book and wrote the screenplay way back in the beginning pre-Worthingtonin order to play the part of Lucas himself. I'm just wildly speculating but now Deadline reports that another writer was brought in, Oren Moverman who "wrote a script based on the adaptation of the novel by Paul Leyden."

I wonder what the story is there;  I wonder too what contractual difference it makes with the WGA and the moolah; any writers guild experts out there?

In the highly skilled hands of Australian (Leyden's an Aussie too) director Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, The Bone Collector, Salt) For the Dogs will probably be fantastic regardless of the book; still the film is still in pre-production and won't come out for over a year plenty of time to read the book and get to know the characters. Judging by the description they sound worth knowing. Learn more about the book at kevinwignall.com

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