Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Exclusive: Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley to Ed Zwick’s “Death of Kings,” A Real Life “Game of Thrones” (No Dragons)

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“Glory” director Ed Zwick is busy these days. He’s got a new memoir out, plus I’m told he’s signed up to direct a real life “Game of Thrones.”

Sources say “Death of Kings” will likely have Morgan Freeman and Sir Ben Kingsley head up a big all star cast in a movie based on Bernard Cornwell’s best selling historical fiction.

The book was already part of a miniseries based on Cornwell’s six book series. But now “Death of Kings” will get a whole film just to itself. What’s it about? Wikipedia says “It continues the story of Saxon warlord Uhtred of Bebbanburg who resists a new Danish invasion of Wessex and Mercia.” Whatever that means. So far, no dragons have been mentioned.

Zwick’s book, “Hits, Flops, and Other Things” is already a hit, telling stories about the director’s “fortysomething” years making tough films like “Courage Under Fire,” “Blood Diamond,” and “Traffic,” and drowsily sentimental TV shows like “thirtysomething,” “Family,” “Once and Again,” and “My So Called Life.”

One of Zwick’s movie hits was “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise. This was before Tom went over the edge with Scientology. But even before “Samurai,” Zwick tried to get Cruise to star in “Legends of the Fall,” in the role of Tristan that eventually went, memorably, to Brad Pitt. Zwick even flew to the set of Ron Howard’s “Far and Away” to get Cruise on board and gave him the “Legends” script.

But Tom turned down the movie because it conflicted with his cult beliefs.

Zwick writes:

“…Tom had some penetrating and helpful things to say about the script. But after an hour or so, he asked about Tristan’s ethics—to which I responded that he essentially had none, and that was at the heart of the character. It was then I realized he would never do the movie.I’m told his question had something to do with Scientology, but if it did it was the
only time over the course of making movies together that it ever found its way into
a creative conversation. In any case, Tom eventually demurred. We wouldn’t see
each other again for ten years—when we did, it would be one of the most gratifying experiences of my career…”

Zwick’s book is full of good gossip, but not enough about “thirtysomething” for that show’s fanatics. Two things I got out of that chapter: Annette Bening auditioned to play either Ellyn (Polly Draper) or Melissa (Melanie Mayron). She didn’t get the part. Now she’s nominated for another Oscar this season. Also, Mel Harris, who played Hope — a character I loathed — has been married six times in real life!

Read the book. You won’t regret it!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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