And for his next trick, “The Fault In Our Stars” actor Ansel Elgort will take on the role of… a 1950s piano player who is credited with bridging the Cold War gap?
Okay, so it’s a far cry from Augustus Waters, but Elgort seems to be the perfect candidate for the lead in the “Van Cliburn” biopic, which is based on Howard Reich’s book. Per Deadline, Elgort will be bringing Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn, Jr.’s 20-something years — the years in which he won the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, with Nikita Kruschev’s approval — to life, which is perfect given their physical similarities (Van Cliburn was tall, Elgort is an actual giant), as well as the fact that Elgort can actually play the piano.
Van Cliburn — who was also a quietly gay Baptist — definitely has a big screen-worthy story, and it will be great to see Elgort stretching his acting chops for this decidedly more adult (than “TFIOS” and “Divergent,” anyway) role. When the 23-year-old Julliard-trained pianist won the competition in 1958, it was during a time when Kruschev used the contest as a tool to highlight Soviet superiority over the United States. However, after an eight-minute standing ovation, Kruschev agreed with the judges that the Texas native was most deserving and gave him the prize.
From then on, Van Cliburn was a favorite in both Russia and the States, until he abruptly stopped playing 20 years later. It will be interesting to find out why, but one thing remains abundantly clear — if anyone can bridge that Cold War gap, it’s Augustus Waters, his height and his impossibly dreamy eyes. Sigh.