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Edward Norton and director John Curran are slowly cultivating a good working relationship. They previously made The Painted Veil, which wasn’t quite a success, and then crafted Stone. The latter, despite having early caution instilled thanks to a terrible sales trailer, has turned out to be a fairly satisfying thriller / character study.

And now the team of Norton and Curran is working together on an HBO miniseries based on the story of the Lewis & Clark expedition.

Mr. Norton told the AV Club,

…we’re trying to make this big—HBO is doing all these historical miniseries, which I think they’ve done an amazing job with a couple of them. We’re trying to produce one for them about Lewis and Clark. There’s that Stephen Ambrose book, Undaunted Courage, about the Lewis and Clark expedition. We’re trying to assemble that, and it’s very big. It’s so out of scale with anything my partners and I have produced. It’s a very interesting set of equations to get something like that made. We’re pretty thick in that right now.

No word yet on whether we can expect Mr. Norton to act in the film, and given his statements about the scale of the production I wonder if he might prefer to stay behind the scenes and concentrate on producing.

There are a few comments earlier in the AC Club interview that make this prospect sound particularly interesting. Take this:

I think he has a great ear for the way denial and the failure to confront yourself builds into toxins and causes damage. Maybe not We Don’t Live Here Anymore, but in these two I’ve worked on with him, I think he’s really rugged. I think he’s pretty unvarnished, but I don’t think he’s ultimately bleak. It’s tough, but I don’t feel in these things that he denies the possibility of people opening up a little bit, or sorting that out. But I like it. I think that when somebody has a theme they go after, it’s fun to service that.

How might that thematic concern manifest in a telling of this story? Lewis and Clark were tasked by Thomas Jefferson with exploring the Louisiana Purchase — essentially, the US didn’t know quite what it was buying from France when the Purchase was negotiated. The expedidtion became one of the first cross-continental treks across North America, and established early cordial relations with some Native American populations. Given that this was a scientific expedition, there’s room in the story for a conflict between different impulses that drove Westward expansion in the US. That could be a large-scale playing of the themes mentioned above.

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