The last time we saw Leonardo DiCaprio in the Old South, he was viciously sneering as the villain in Quentin Tarantino‘s slavery revenge western “Django Unchained.” But the actor is curious to explore racial prejudice through a more dramatic lens, and is lining up a project telling a trouble true story on the eve of 1900.
Deadline reports that Paramount has picked up the rights to Beth Macy‘s book “Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest; A True Story of the Jim Crow South,” with plans to develop it as a movie for DiCaprio. The book tells the tale of brothers George and Willie Muse, who were taken from the Virginia tobacco farm and turned into a freakshow act that traveled the world, all while their mother never gave up her fight to bring them back home. Here’s the book synopsis:
The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever.
Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even “Ambassadors from Mars.” Back home, their mother never accepted that they were “gone” and spent 28 years trying to get them back.
Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home?
Sounds like powerful, provocative material, and presumably DiCaprio will take the role of the man who lured the Muses away. Yet it’s not the only project DiCaprio is developing at Paramount.
THR reports that the actor, through his Appian Way shingle, is in negotiations for the rights to produce a “Captain Planet” movie. Warner Bros. was trying to do something with this property years ago but it clearly didn’t pan out. Jono Matt and Glen Powell will write the script, and this falls in line with DiCaprio’s environmental advocacy, so it’s easy to see why he’s trying to bring this project to the big screen.