Universal Pictures and Walden Media today announced that Academy Award®-winning actress, director and producer Angelina Jolie is in talks to direct Unbroken for Universal Pictures. The film, which is being co-financed and co-produced by Universal and Walden Media, will be based on the New York Times bestselling book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American Legend). The announcement was made by Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson and Co-Chairman Donna Langley and Walden Media Chief Executive Officer, Michael Bostick.
Originally published by Random House in 2010, the book follows the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner of war camp. The book has sat atop the New York Times bestseller list for more than 108 consecutive weeks, fourteen of those at number one. It was also the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction.
“In her life and in her work, Angelina has embraced stories and causes involving great struggle and triumph over tremendous odds and the basic human condition,” said Fogelson and Langley. “She has a real ability to illustrate the strength in human spirit which will be essential in telling Lous story of survival and great heroism.”
Added Bostick, “We’re thrilled that Angelina will bring this epic story to the big screen. Lou’s is one of history’s most incredible and inspiring stories, and we are excited to partner with such a passionate filmmaker to share it with audiences all over the world.”
A celebrated artist, Jolie has gathered Oscar®, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, winning an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted.
“I read Laura Hillenbrand’s brilliant book, and I was so moved by Louie Zamperini’s heroic story, I immediately began to fight for the opportunity to make this film,” said Jolie. “Louie is a true hero and a man of immense humanity, faith and courage. I am deeply honored to have the chance to tell his inspiring story.
Frequent Universal Pictures collaborator William Nicholson (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Gladiator, Les Misérables) wrote the latest draft of the screenplay and an earlier draft was written by Richard LaGravenese. Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff will produce with Mick Garris serving as executive producer. Chief Executive Officer, Michael Bostick and Senior Vice President of Production Amanda Morgan-Palmer, will oversee the project on behalf of Walden Media. Universal Pictures Co-President of Production, Peter Cramer and Vice President of Production, Kristin Lowe will oversee the project on behalf of Universal.