Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the hottest stars on the planet. Russell Crowe is arguably one of the most talented actors of his generation. Ridley Scott is the legendary mastermind behind such films as "Blade Runner" and "Gladiator." And "Body of Lies" is an intense CIA novel adapted by William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind "The Departed."
If you aren't intrigued at this point, perhaps we could recommend DailyKitten.com as a more appropriate choice for your Web-surfing pleasure.
MTV News recently caught up with DiCaprio and Scott for separate interviews, and we eagerly prodded them for details on their "Body" adaptation, which begins filming next month. Sure enough, what they had to say makes the flick already sound like a 2008 Oscar heavyweight.
"I'm going to go work with Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe in Morocco on an untitled film," DiCaprio revealed.
"I start with Russell and Leonardo in five weeks," Scott said. "It's based on [Washington Post columnist] David Ignatius' book, which originally was called 'Penetration,' and then it was called 'Body of Lies.' So we're still wrestling with the title. There's another interesting, [possible] title called 'Chatter.'
"So send in which one you like," he joked, suggesting an online poll. "[It's between] 'Chatter,' 'Penetration' or 'Body of Lies.' It's not about sex; it's about politics in the Middle East, and it's really good."
Ignatius' novel is a post-9/11 spy tale of an idealistic CIA agent stationed in Jordan after being wounded in Iraq. Using an old British plan that helped take down the Nazis, the agent turns the terrorists against each other by planting suspicion — but when people begin to uncover his efforts, he finds himself as a target.
"It's a throwback to the political films that I enjoyed in the '70s," DiCaprio said of why he decided to take part in the project. "Certainly [it's reminiscent] of films like 'The Parallax View' and 'Three Days of the Condor,' and I'd love to be a part of more films like that."
"If I tell you about the plot, it sounds usual, suspect," Scott teased, insisting that there's a lot more to Monahan's script than any one-sentence pitch could capture ("Schindler's List" screenwriter Steven Zaillian is currently giving the script a final polish). "But take my word for it; it's a great book ... it takes place in Dubai, Washington and Morocco. I'm going back to Morocco for the fourth time."
"I love when it's a good-enough story and it has a great narrative in it, and it's gonna be a good film first and foremost — I'm a huge advocate for making those types of movies," DiCaprio said. Then, comparing that aspect of the flick to another Oscar-nominated drama he released last year, he added: "That's why 'Blood Diamond' was huge on my radar, why I jumped at that opportunity — and certainly this film with Ridley."
Going head-to-head with DiCaprio, Russell Crowe has signed on to play a right-wing suit in the CIA who clashes with the young agent. "You'll see something different," Scott promised, referring to Crowe's knack for transforming himself. "We're still circling and deciding. I'll leave a lot to him and say, 'What do you want to do? Do you want to go thin? Glamorous? Fat? [Do you want to] eat too much or eat very little?'
"We have that kind of conversation," Scott said of the star, who has previously been his leading man in "Gladiator," "A Good Year" and November's "American Gangster." "You give the audience a long list that's absolutely definitive as to who this character must be but, for the most part, that's bullsh--. What I think makes [Crowe] most engaging is that he can fit into anything. It's the same with Leo."
And as DiCaprio has become more concerned with world affairs, his choices of films like "Diamond" and the global-warming documentary "The 11th Hour" have allowed the young star to speak his mind — a trend he hopes to continue by using the untitled CIA flick to explore thorny Iraq war issues close to his heart.
"This is the way that people are educated about issues nowadays. This is the main avenue for learning in today's world," he said of the movies. "I would just hope that enough people go to see them, so the studios will be encouraged to make more films like that in the future and that there is an audience for them and they are profitable."
Scott adds that the combination of the source material and his two stars will make him pretty confident when he strolls onto the set in a few short weeks. "I never say it's a home run," the director grinned. "But I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
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