Errol Morris may be one of, if not the, premiere documentary filmmakers. His subjects have been as varied as pet cemeteries ("Gates of Heaven"), Stephen Hawking ("A Brief History of Time") and Abu Ghraib prison ("Standard Operating Procedure"), and are known for their directness and frequent Philip Glass scores.
One of his docs, "The Thin Blue Line," actually played an integral part in getting a man released from prison.
Now the Oscar-winner is planning to step over another line, into narrative feature filmmaking, and he's taking Paul Rudd with him.
According to The Washington Post, the documentarian has the "Anchorman" star nailed down to play Bob Nelson, a real-life 1960's TV repairman who joins a group of folks developing technology to freeze people for later resuscitation. The screenplay is being developed by Zach Helm along with "This American Life" head-honcho Ira Glass, based on a famous segment from that Public Radio program.
Although Morris considers this his first foray into this type of filmmaking, he's flirted with several similar projects in the past, including two Stephen King adaptations and a bank robbery movie with Tom Waits and Mickey Rourke. He's credited as director on 1991's Lou Diamond Phillips Indian reservation thriller "The Dark Wind," on which he was let go by producer Robert Redford. He considers the Bob Nelson project his first dramatic feature.
Nelson is a great American eccentric, and a perfect fit for Rudd who specializes in likable goofs, but an even greater fit for Morris whose forte is making characters like this not just palatable but truly fascinating. Here's him summarizing his approach in a 1992 interview:
"The idea is to allow each character to create a world for themselves, a dream. I've always thought of my portraits as my own version of the Museum of Natural History, these very odd dioramas where you're trying to create some foreign exotic environment and place it on display."