Jake Gyllenhaal is in the midst of talks to join Benedict Cumberbatch in The Weinstein Company’s Thomas Edison period drama THE CURRENT WAR. Penned by playwright/screenwriter Michael Mitnick, the script was notably featured on both the Hit List and Black List before selling to the Weinstein Co. Cumberbatch is set to portray famed inventor Thomas Edison in the pic, which chronicles the true story behind the alternate/direct current debate (called the “War of Currents”) and the intense rivalry between Edison and George Westinghouse as they fought to be the first to commercially implement a practical system of electricity.
The Tracking Board exclusively announced Cumberbatch’s involvement last May, though now Me and Earl and the Dying Girl helmer Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is in talks to direct. If the deal goes through, Gomez-Rejon will direct this one following his next film, the Will Smith-led Collateral Beauty.
Gyllenhaal is in talks to take on the role of Westinghouse, who is the protagonist of the story. Naturally, Edison is portrayed as the antagonist, as the inventor notably launched a smear campaign against Westinghouse and tirelessly worked to discredit the rival’s alternating current, spreading lies and disinformation.
Timur Bekmambetov nabbed the script to direct in 2012, though he will now strictly produce under his Bazelevs banner, along with Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch. At one time, even Ben Stiller was circling to helm.
Gyllenhaal recently worked with the Weinsteins on the boxing drama Southpaw. The Nightcrawler actor met with Harvey Weinstein while at TIFF promoting his latest film, Demolition, and was pitched The Current War along with a few other available projects. He’s next starring in Tom Ford’s drama Nocturnal Animals, which also stars Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Gomez-Rejon burst on the scene with his lauded drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which sold big to Fox Searchlight following an acclaimed premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Before that, he helmed the Ryan Murphy-produced horror remake The Town That Dreaded Sundown, along with episodes of American Horror Story, Glee, and Red Band Society.
Clark Allen | Associate Editor