Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t played bad all that often. He’ll go to the dark side for Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street), but he generally prefers if audiences see him at least intending to do good. But the serial dinosaur bone collector may be adding another monster to the pile.
According to Deadline, DiCaprio is in final talks to play Jim Jones (note: not the rapper), one of the most notorious cult leaders of the 20th century. A political activist and preacher, Jones led the Peoples Temple, whose members perished in a mass-suicide in a commune called “Jonestown” in Guyana. It’s the basis of the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid,” for that is what Jones’ associates laced with poison so that his flock would slip off this mortal coil together. (Though some reports claim it was actually the more thrifty alternative Flavor Aid.) Jones himself took his own life by gunshot.
The project, simply entitled Jim Jones, will be penned by Scott Rosenberg, the longtime Hollywood screenwriter whose credits include Con Air, Gone in 60 Seconds, Kangaroo Jack, and more recently Venom and the Jumanji films.
Jones was a complicated figure, whose church was active for over two decades before its grisly end. He started Peoples Temple in the mid-50s, preaching for diversity and aligning his flock with socialist and Civil Rights causes. Its descent into a suicidal cult has prompted numerous documentary and narrative films, among them Ti West’s The Sacrament, featuring Joe Swanberg and Amy Seimetz and concerning a thinly-veiled Peoples-like cult.
In the meantime, DiCaprio will have two slightly less despairing movies coming out: Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, about a comet set to destroy Earth, and Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, about the mysterious murder of Native Americans in the 1920s. He may also be appearing in the American remake of the Oscar-winning Danish drinking movie Another Round.