Late last year, it looked like John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) would direct an adaptation of the Matt Bondurant book The Wettest County in the World, possibly with Shia LaBeouf and Ryan Gosling in the lead roles. The name of the film was changed to The Promised Land when it appeared at the 2009 American Film Market, but financing never came together and in January of this year the film was pronounced dead.

And now — huzzah! –  it seems to be back from the grave, once again using the title The Wettest County in the World. Shia LaBeouf remains part of the project, but other rumored male co-stars have given way to a new actor who will join him: Tom Hardy.

The LA Times says the project is back on “according to two people familiar with the film,” that it is still working from the script previously written by Nick Cave and that production aims to start in the spring. Amy Adams was also rumored for the film at this time last year; we don’t have any word on her involvement, but she should be well finished with The Muppets by then, and her schedule might be open.

I’m as interested in this project now as I was the first time. With Hillcoat, Cave and Tom Hardy I can’t fail to be a bit excited, and I’ll go back to the position I held when this was going around originally: Shia LaBeouf has a good actor in him, and a project like this might help bring that actor out. Very happy to see this project might actually happen.

Previously:

The Wettest County in the World sounds like a fantastic story and a perfect project for Hillcoat. It’s based on the story of Matt Bondurant’s own grandfather and great-uncles, who ran a depression-era moonshine/bootlegging business. There’s also a parallel thread, where a reporter is tracking the gang and reporting on bootlegging while researching a novel. Here’s a synopsis that gives a few more details and makes the whole shebang sound like quite a nice little concoction:

In 1928, a pair of thieves accost Bondurant’s real life great-uncle Forrest at his Franklin County, Va., restaurant. They’re after a large cache of bootlegging money and end up cutting Forrest’s throat. The story of his survival and his trek to a hospital 12 miles away has taken on mythical proportions by the time Sherwood Anderson arrives in Franklin County in 1934 to research a magazine piece on the area’s prolific moonshiners. Soon after Anderson’s arrival, two anonymous men appear at the same hospital, one with legs meticulously shattered from ankle to hip, the other one castrated, with the by-products of the deed deposited in a jar of moonshine. The arc of the story lies between the attack on Forrest and that on the two men.

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