Joel and Ethan Coen on Inside Llewyn Davis set

Would you watch a Steven Spielberg movie starring Tom Hanks, written by the Coen Brothers? Yeah, thought so. Last year, Matt Charman wrote a true-life cold war drama that tells the story of a US attorney who negotiated with the KGB to secure the release of a spy plane pilot. Tom Hanks came on board, and Steven Spielberg was recently attached to the Dreamworks project. It’s at the point now where the film is being talked up as one of the most likely next projects for the director. And now Joel and Ethan Coen are rewriting the script. 

The film will tell “the true story of James Donovan, an attorney who was put into the center of the Cold War when he negotiated the release of downed U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers.”

THR reports the basic details of the Coens doing the rewrite, but we don’t know how extensive their work would be. The basic story sounds like one in which the brothers would find a lot of strange, dry humor; I almost don’t want to think about it too much, however, because I’ll start to want to see the version of the film that the Coens cast and direct themselves. Their tone isn’t one that I would immediately choose as something that seems like an obvious match for Spielberg, which makes this project all the more interesting.

If things work out, Dreamworks wants to shoot the film in September, which would probably make this Spielberg’s next film.

Not that a Coen Brothers script means the film is guaranteed to be great; there’s the recent film Gambit to give an example of what someone else might do with a Coen script. (And the last time the Coens wrote for Tom Hanks was The Ladykillers, which also isn’t a high point in their catalogue.) But let’s hope those are outliers, just particularly bad examples. Angelina Jolie also got their help with the script for Unbroken, which she directed for release later this year. That looks a lot more promising.

The next film the Coens will direct will be Hail Caesar, about a “Hollywood fixer.”

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