Ron Howard has apparently found his next major movie project. Currently filming the 19th century survival tale ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ with Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, and Cillian Murphy, he’s also been tapped to take on the latest from Dan “The Da Vinci Code” Brown, ‘Inferno.’
Now, the Oscar winner is seemingly in need of even more material to keep him busy (and away from bringing Stephen King’s much rumored ‘The Dark Tower’ series to cinematic life). How else can you explain the recent story from Deadline.com which states that the auteur, through his Imagine Films brand and its partnering studio, Universal, has paid $1 million for a spec script about Barry Seal, an overweight gun runner in ’80s.
Entitled ‘Mena’ (after Mena, Arkansas where a lot of the illegal activity took place), the story centers around this unlikely criminal who kept both the drug cartels and the CIA at bay until his untimely death in a hail of gunfire. Some research indicates that Seal started flying at age 15, got his pilot’s license at 16, and became the youngest TWA employee at the time. ]
Over the course of his career, he lost his job, got involved with marijuana smuggling, quickly moved to cocaine, and eventually became a government informant. There was even a link to the infamous Iran-Contra scandal. When the media indirectly exposed Seal’s involvement with several sting operations, he became a target of the drug lords, eventually leading to his being shot outside a Salvation Army where he was holed up as part of his plea deal.
Granted, this is an intriguing story and has elements that play directly into Howard’s style of filmmaking. Perhaps the most intriguing idea here is that Seal is constantly referred to in news stories as “fat” and “obese.” Even Deadline‘s article lists him as “300-pound gun runner” when describing the project.
So this poses the next question – who will Howard hire? Will Bobby Seal be given a Hollywood makeover, reduced down in size in order to find a name star, or will some A-lister pack on the weight to play the character? While there are several sensational actors out there who could essay the role without much physical trouble (we’re looking at you, Jonah Hill), we’ll have to wait and see which direction ‘Mena’ will go. For now, considering it an intriguing production in development.