A couple of days ago on my Twitter I posted, “TV spots for State of Play look way better than that first trailer did.” A couple of people responded and one asked what my expectations were. I really have no expectations as much as high hopes I answered. I mean, consider the cast made up of Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren and Robin Wright Penn as well as the director, Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland). Now take into consideration the script was written by Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs) with rewrites by Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Identity and Michael Clayton) and Billy Ray (Shattered Glass and Breach). Then there is the fact it is based on a much loved BBC miniseries. Who can’t have high hopes for this film?
That long paragraph serves as my introduction into a new story at Variety announcing State of Play (4/17) helmer Kevin Macdonald is now set to direct the 2nd century A.D. Roman military drama The Eagle of the Ninth for Focus Features with a script by Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland) adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel of the same name.
The film is a Roman adventure set in the dangerous world of second-century Britain. In 135 A.D., fifteen years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, young centurion Marcus Aquila arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Bell), Marcus sets out across Hadrianâ€™s Wall into the uncharted High Lands of Caledonia â€“ to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his fatherâ€™s memory, and retrieve the lost legionâ€™s golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth.
The plan is to begin production in August with Hungarian locations standing in for 2nd century England, while the Scottish scenes will be filmed in Scotland.
This is not the first we have heard of this particular production as it was first announced Macdonald would direct back in May of 2008. At that time it was thought the film would get underway at the end of 2008, but the writers strike and casting delays on State of Play pushed everything back.