Rod Serling Biopic

Director Richard Kelly shot onto the Hollywood scene with the psychological thriller Donnie Darko starring Jake Gyllenhaal in 2001. A few years later, he returned with the fascinating but underwhelming Southland Tales, followed by the odd, cautionary tale The Box. Since then he’s pretty much disappeared, popping up only as a producer for Operation: Endgame back in 2010. But now the filmmaker might be making a comeback with the a biopic focusing on one of sci-fi’s most influential creative minds: The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.

Geeks Worldwide reported and Collider has confirmed that Richard Kelly is looking to both write and direct the Rod Serling biopic that’s looking to go into production sometime next year. Jason Michael Berman will produce the movie through Mandalay Pictures with Kevin Turen, Matthew Lindner and Kelly‚Äôs manager, Brian Young.

What’s not clear is if this will be a biopic that aims to tell the entire life story of Rod Serling or if this will merely be a movie that focuses on the creation of The Twilight Zone. Either way, Serling’s story is an interesting one. Serling always had a knack for storytelling, even at a young age. He would often put on small stage performances inspired by pulp magazines and movies, and though his school teachers often saw him as a class clown without any focus for school work, one of his teachers put his skills to work in public speaking.

After graduating high school, Serling enlisted in the army and trained as a paratrooper. Though Serling, a young Jewish man, hoped he would be able to take up arms against some Nazis, he ended up being stationed in the Philippines. His division was tasked with cleaning up the gruesome scene after five divisions had fought during the Battle of Leyte. This time he spent in the military would be a great influence on his later work.

Following his military service, Serling went to Antioch College and started writing and performing in radio shows, returning to his old theatrical days as a kid. That would eventually lead into a TV career, one where he was often frustrated by the oversight of network sponsors and censors controlling the stories he wanted to tell. As you probably guessed, that resulted in the creation of The Twilight Zone, a landmark sci-fi anthology series that would go on to win several awards and influence genre television for decades to come.

Funnily enough, Richard Kelly’s movie The Box was inspired by the short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson, which ended up being adapted in the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling had passed away before that point in 1975, but Kelly’s storytelling style has a lot in common with the sci-fi shorts from the classic TV series. Will he use those sensibilities to tell a story about Rod Serling that has nuggets of inspiration for iconic Twilight Zone episodes? Or will this be something different? We’ll have to wait and see.

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