Anthony LaPaglia's 14-year quest to produce and star in a movie based on Arthur Miller's celebrated play A View from the Bridge is over.
The Miller estate has turned down a pitch by LaPaglia and his Australian co-producer Stephen Van Mil to renew the film rights, which expired on Tuesday.
Impian Films founder Van Mil had New York-based Bella Donna Films ready to supervise production of the film, which would have been shot in Gotham, with Ray Lawrence directing from a screenplay by Andrew Bovell, and LaPaglia set to play an unhappily-married Brooklyn longshoreman who falls in love with his niece.
This week Van Mil was in discussions with Maarten Kooij of ICM Talent, agent for the Miller Trust, which ended yesterday when the agent emailed: “Further to your call earlier today, we've now discussed your View from the Bridge proposal with our clients at the Miller Trust and I'm afraid the response is a polite but firm no.”
A disappointed Van Mil suspects the Miller Trust, which is headed by Miller's daughter, actress-director Rebecca Miller, may be doing a deal on the film rights with another party.
He said the subject of a fee to extend the option was never raised by ICM. “I just asked for another year: they wouldn't even grant me another day,” he told SBS Film.
“I understand the Miller Trust's frustration but we had significant international interest, an excellent screenplay and Ray Lawrence was committed. It was a whole new ball game.”
LaPaglia first secured the rights after starring in the Broadway revival of the play in 1997-98 and was hopeful that Van Mil could engineer a deal. Two weeks ago he told SBS, “I've had 14 years to get the film up. And despite being very close so many times, I was not able to successfully drag it over the line. The feeling is, and I agree, that it's time for someone else to take the reins and give this material the respect it deserves.”
LaPaglia has no shortage of work, having recently voiced the character of Boss Skua in George Miller's Happy Feet 2 and co-starred in writer-director P.J. Hogan's comedy Mental, which Universal will release in Australia. In that he plays a philandering politician who commits his wife to a mental hospital after she has a nervous breakdown, finds himself alone with five teenage daughters he barely knows and impulsively hires a hitchhiker (Toni Collette) as a nanny.
Among his current and upcoming projects, he'll be seen in Long Time Gone, based on April Stevens' novel about a mysterious woman (Christina Ricci) who enters the life of a dysfunctional family and turns it upside down; and Save Your Legs, an Australian/Bollywood co-production about a cricket tragic who takes his local D-grade team on a tour of India.
Early next year he's set to star in The Grandmothers, the saga of two fiftysomething women, each of whom is having an affair with the other's son, based on a Doris Lessing novel and directed by Anne Fontaine; and in Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti Western Django Unchained, with an all-star cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell.