Steve Carell and James Gandolfini in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

As a kid, my favorite dinosaur wasn’t the vicious velociraptor or the majestic T-Rex, but the gentle (relatively speaking) giant brontosaurus. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I later learned that the creature wasn’t just extinct, like all the other dinos, but that he’d never existed in the first place.

As it turns out, he was just an Apatosaurus that paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh had mixed up, in a mad dash to outdo his professional rival Edward Drinker Cope. While the pair’s feud ultimately ruined both men, it also contributed a great deal to the field of paleontology. Now, over a century later, their battle has yielded another potential treasure. Steve Carell and James Gandolfini are set to star as the scientists in the comedy Bone Wars, for HBO.

The film reunites Carell and Gandolfini, who were recently seen together in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Gandolfini will play Marsh, of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, and Carell will portray Cope, of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The project is billed as a “sophisticated comedy” based in fact. The search for a writer is currently underway. No director or start date has been announced at this time.

The historical competition seems like rich material for comedy. Cope and Marsh met on friendly terms in the 1860s, but their relationship soured and became openly hostile by the ’70s. The scientists’ desperation to top each other led to the discovery of over 100 new dinosaur species over two decades. It also drove them to undermine each other’s credibility by any means necessary, including bribery, theft, and the destruction of fossils.

Aside from The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, the very busy Carell has The Way, Way Back and Foxcatcher due out this year, and is currently filming Anchorman: The Legend Continues. Gandolfini was seen last year in Killing Them Softly, Not Fade Away, and Zero Dark Thirty, and is now filming Animal Rescue with Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.

[Source: Deadline]

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