Guillermo Del Toro's 'Nightmare Alley' Loses Leonardo DiCaprio, Potentially Gains Bradley Cooper

The del Toro/DiCaprio team-up was apparently too good to be true. Leonardo DiCaprio was previously in talks to join Guillermo del Toro's return to directing, Nightmare Alley. But now word has it that DiCaprio is out, having passed on the project when a deal could not be reached. So who will take his place? Bradley Cooper! Maybe! Cooper is now said to be "circling" the project, which is an adaptation of the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name – which was previously adapted into the 1947 movie Nightmare Alley.

Leo out, B.Coops in! So says Variety, who report that Cooper is in early talks to join Guillermo del Toro's Nightmare Alley. DiCaprio was previously rumored as the potential star back in April, but Variety says the actor "ended up passing on the project after a deal could not be reached." Bummer. But Cooper is a solid actor as well, and it'll be interesting to see him working with del Toro, should things work out.

Nightmare Alley will be del Toro's first directorial effort since winning an Oscar for The Shape of Water, and will adapt William Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel of the same name. Here's the book's synopsis:

Nightmare Alley begins with an extraordinary description of a freak-show geek—alcoholic and abject and the object of the voyeuristic crowd's gleeful disgust and derision—going about his work at a county fair. Young Stan Carlisle is working as a carny, and he wonders how a man could fall so low. There's no way in hell, he vows, that anything like that will ever happen to him.

And since Stan is clever and ambitious and not without a useful streak of ruthlessness, soon enough he's going places. Onstage he plays the mentalist with a cute bimbo (before long his harried wife), then he graduates to full-blown spiritualist, catering to the needs of the rich and gullible in their well-upholstered homes. It looks like the world is Stan's for the taking. At least for now.

The book was previously adapted in 1947, although the adaptation didn't stick very close to the source material. Here's that film's synopsis:

Stanton Carlisle (Tyrone Power) joins a traveling carny and unsuccessfully schemes to figure out the mind-reading act of Mademoiselle Zeena (Joan Blondell) and her alcoholic husband, Pete (Ian Keith). But when Pete dies, Zeena is forced to take on Stanton as a partner, and he quickly proves more gifted than his predecessor. Ambitious to a fault, Carlisle abandons Zeena and the carny to reinvent himself as "The Great Stanton," wowing high-class audiences in a Chicago hotel.

This new film is said to adhere closer to the novel. It's expected to start shooting this fall.

An interesting side-note to all of this: when DiCaprio was considered the frontrunner to star in this film, it was reported that he passed on a new Paul Thomas Anderson movie to work with del Toro. Now that the actor is no longer working on Nightmare Alley, might he end up in the new Anderson film after all? We shall see.