UPDATE: Turns out Franco, Rudin and the rest of the filmmaking team behind the long-awaited adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian isn’t happening. Why? According to the Hollywood Reporter, previously announced deals with Crowe, Sheridan and D’Onofrio are off because the filmmakers didn’t have the rights to the book. Until then, the project is being shelved.
Here’s our original item on the piece.
Many have tried and failed to adapt Cormac McCarthy’s fantastically violent 1985 novel, Blood Meridian for the big screen. For a time, Alien and Blade Runner helmer Ridley Scott was attached to the project. Before that, it was Tommy Lee Jones. However, the job of turning a book that many in the industry consider unfilmable has since fallen to James Franco, who famously shot a test film after he’d completed work for 127 Hours. Not only that, Franco may have picked up one of his best bits of casting for the movie — Russell Crowe as none other than Judge Holden, perhaps one of American literature’s most horrifying creations.
According to Deadline, Crowe, Tye Sheridan and Vincent D’Onofrio have all joined the cast, which will also feature director Franco in a supporting role. None of the actors’ roles were specified in the brief press release, which simply added their names to the Scott Rudin-produced project. Previously, Rudin produced No Country for Old Men, another adaptation of a McCarthy novel, which went on to win several Academy Awards for filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen and actor Javier Bardem. Franco also tried his hand at another McCarthy property with his less successful adaptation of Child of God in 2013.
Whether or not Franco has the chops to make a proper Blood Meridian movie remains to be seen. However, Crowe’s casting should come as welcome news to even to the most skeptical biblio- and cinephiles. That’s because the 52-year-old actor, who’s having something of a resurgence with Shane Black’s The Nice Guys and the currently-filming Mummy re-reboot, has been working towards this particular role since 2007. That’s when James Mangold’s remake of the 1957 classic western 3:10 to Yuma came out, which featured Crowe as the charming, deadly and villainous Ben Wade.
Yuma wasn’t praised as a modern masterpiece, but it earned strong notices. As A.O. Scott of The New York Times argued in his review, “It is ultimately the actors who carry the movie. The destination may be as familiar as the journey, but there are still some sights worth seeing along the way.” The particular actors in question were Christian Bale, who played the movie’s hero of sorts, and Crowe. Scott described Wade as “a sociopath whose twinkly charm masks both his ruthlessness and his perverse integrity,” and the bloody shoe definitely fit.
Crowe even had the otherwise rough-around-the-edges bank robber sketch birds, plants and other items into a book on occasion. A character trait that, for those familiar with Blood Meridian, was a popular pastime (and an unnerving bit of foreshadowing) for Judge Holden.