Joel and Ethan Coen have signed on to work on Angelina Jolie’s next project, EW confirmed Monday. The Oscar-winning screenwriters (Adapted for No Country For Old Men, and Original for Fargo), have agreed to rewrite the script for a film about Lou Zamperini, a former Olympian who was captured by the Japanese Navy while serving as an Air Force pilot in World War II. Jolie will direct.
The script will be based on Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling 2010 novel Unbroken, but the idea of a Zamperini project has been in the works for decades, with versions by screenwriters such as William Nicholson (Gladiator) and Richard LaGravanese (The Bridges of Madison County). After Zamperini’s B-24 crashed in the Pacific, he and two crew mates (one died at sea) survived on a tiny raft for 47 days, only to be taken prisoner and held in a Japanese internment camp for two and a half years. Assumed to be dead, Zamperini received a hero’s welcome upon his return to the United States and later returned to Japan to carry the Olympic torch at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, not far from where he had been imprisoned during WWII.
This will be Jolie’s first narrative feature since In The Land of Blood And Honey, her directorial debut. The Coen brothers, meanwhile, are best known for their success writing and directing their own projects – though they have written scripts for other directors, including Michael Hoffman’s Gambit, with Alan Rickman and Cameron Diaz, which should be released in the United States sometime in 2013. Regardless, this is an interesting, high-profile partnership on a story that seems to have awards potential written all over it.