For a long time, Robert Redford has been trying to get a film about Jackie Robinson off the ground that would have him playing Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey who discovered and signed baseball great Jackie Robinson. The L.A. Times is now reporting that Mystic River and L.A. Confidential screenwriter Brian Helgeland will both write and direct the untitled project, according to Redford.
The film will be produced by Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures who has a first look deal with Warner Bros. and while Redford’s role is set, they have yet to cast an actor to play Jackie Robinson.
According to the story, the film will deal with the complex relationship between Rickey and Robinson rather than focusing on Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball after signing to the Dodgers in 1945.
Redford is quoted in the piece saying:
“No one really knows the Rickey part, the political maneuvers and the partnership they had to share. It’s the story underneath the story you thought you knew.”
The Times also reports that Redford is still set to play Bill Bryson in the similarly long-delayed A Walk in the Woods to be directed by Barry Levinson, hoping to get back in front of the camera after spending so much time directing. Whichever film happens first will be Redford’s first role as an actor in a movie he didn’t direct since co-starring with Morgan Freeman in Lasse Hallstrom’s An Unfinished Life six years ago.