The Operator Movie - The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama Bin Laden

Lorne Michaels is best known for creating and executive producing Saturday Night Live, not to mention producing countless TV shows featuring SNL veterans and other notable comedians. Every now and then he tackles something that isn’t a straight-up comedy project, and the producer’s next big screen project doesn’t sound like it will be funny at all.

Universal Pictures is teaming up with Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video production banner to buy the rights to The Operator, a biography written by Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill. The book not only acts as a memoir of O’Neill’s life and service, but specifically recounts the moment when he killed the terrorist leader credited with the horrific attacks of 9/11.

If you’ve never heard of Rob O’Neill or The Operator until now, here’s the official synopsis of the book:

This instant New York Times bestseller—“a jaw-dropping, fast-paced account” (New York Post) recounts SEAL Team Operator Robert O’Neill’s incredible four-hundred-mission career, including the attempts to rescue “Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell and abducted-by-Somali-pirates Captain Richard Phillips, and which culminated in the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist—Osama bin Laden.

In The Operator, Robert O’Neill describes his idyllic childhood in Butte, Montana; his impulsive decision to join the SEALs; the arduous evaluation and training process; and the even tougher gauntlet he had to run to join the SEALs’ most elite unit. After officially becoming a SEAL, O’Neill would spend more than a decade in the most intense counterterror effort in US history. For extended periods, not a night passed without him and his small team recording multiple enemy kills—and though he was lucky enough to survive, several of the SEALs he’d trained with and fought beside never made it home.

Even though this material is far outside the wheelhouse that Lorne Michaels usually works within, this isn’t the first time he’s tackled the subject of the War on Terror. Michaels also produced Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, the war dramedy starring Tina Fey as a cable news producer who decides to take an assignment on the frontlines of the war in Kabul, Afghanistan. That movie still had plenty of comedy in it though, and this sounds more like a traditional war drama.

Adapting the book will be Michael Russell Gunn (as reported by Deadline), a supervising producer on the Showtime series Billions. Gunn hasn’t seen any of his scripts hit the big screen yet, but he made the Black List in 2015 with The Virginian, which is now set up at New Line. The writer also has a Cold War thriller called Price of Liberty in development with Participant Media and Tribeca Film. More along the lines of The Operator, he’s currently working on Breaking Cover, the true story of posthumous Medal of Honor recipient John Chapman, the first man to receive the award since Vietnam.

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