If you’re a Jeopardy! fiend, the name Thomas Horn is likely familiar; to everyone else some explanation is in order as to how the 12-year old earned his fame, and how that has led to him landing a plum role in Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Thomas Horn won $31,800 on the game show in October, and he’s obviously got some smart people working for him, too. Deadline says he’s now earned the role of Oskar Schell, the smart young artist/inventor/writer who sets off on an unusual journey of discovery when he discovers a key among the possessions of his late father, who was killed in 9/11.

Eric Roth wrote the script, and Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are set to play Oskar’s parents.

I’m so curious to read the script (got it?) because on the page, the story is built from a variety of narrative perspectives and uses a number of unusual tactics to tell Oskar’s tale. The novel was one of the first post-9/11 books, and it directly engages the outcome attack without being maudlin. There’s potentially some wrenching work to be done by Tom Hanks as he plays Oskar’s father’s last day. (In the novel, Oskar imagines that one of the famous images of a body falling from the WTC might have been his father.) There are a great many ways this adaptation could wildly miss the mark, but if it works this could be an uncommonly moving film.

Oskar Schell is a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist. Oskar turns his naïvely precocious vocabulary to the understanding of historical tragedy, as he searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks, a quest that intertwines with the story of his grandparents, whose lives were blighted by the firebombing of Dresden. Foer embellishes the narrative with evocative graphics, including photographs, colored highlights and passages of illegibly overwritten text, and takes his unique flair for the poetry of miscommunication to occasionally gimmicky lengths, like a two-page soliloquy written entirely in numerical code.

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