You’ve marvelled at Lincoln and been transfixed by The Iron Lady, now prepare for Hollywood’s next great political biopic – Howard: Man of Steel.
That’s right, Australia’s second longest-serving Prime Minister, John Howard, is to be the subject of a new film, with some of the world’s biggest names jockeying for the right to play him and direct the movie.*
And while the working title – Man of Steel – might surprise some, the lead producer on the project, Daniel Scharf, who first found box office success with the gritty Australian classic, Romper Stomper, said it was inspired by former US President George W. Bush’s description of the former Liberal PM.
“President Bush once described Mr Howard as a man of steel because of his staunch support of the war on terror,” said Scharf. “So, it’s hardly hyperbole to build that into the title.”
Scharf said Howard’s unstinting support for Bush and the US during his 11 years in office, was one of the key reasons Hollywood was supporting the project. It is believed The Weinstein Company, who backed the Margaret Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady, will put millions into the Howard movie.
“We believe it will be a hit on at least two continents not only because of Howard’s role in the so-called ‘war on terror’, but also because of his brave stance on gun control,” Scharf said.
Weinstein Company principal, super-producer Harvey Weinstein, recently announced that another of his films, The Senator’s Wife, would “expose” the National Rifle Association for behind the scenes machinations, intimidation and lies. Hollywood insiders said Weinstein is hoping Howard: Man of Steel will further isolate the NRA, by highlighting the former PM’s rewriting of gun laws in Australia.
Casting the net
Scharf would not comment on casting decisions, but admitted the recent death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman had delayed the project. He refused to confirm or deny that the actor had been Weinstein’s first choice to play Howard.
It’s rumoured that Academy Award winner, Matthew McConaughey, has signed on to play Bush and that the final shooting schedule will depend on him. Asked about this, Scharf would only say, somewhat cryptically: “He’s the hottest actor in the world at the moment.”
Because of Scharf’s involvement in the project, Romper Stomper star Russell Crowe is almost certain to be considered for the lead role. So, apparently, is another Oscar winner, Anthony Hopkins.
The role of Jeanette Howard will also be a key casting with Meryl Streep, who stars in The Senator’s Wife and, ironically, played Thatcher in The Iron Lady, favoured for the part. Her command of Australian accents – proven by her performance as Lindy Chamberlain in Evil Angels – makes her a short-priced favourite to get the part.
It is believed other key casting decisions include the roles of Peter Costello, Paul Keating and Alexander Downer, who relinquished the Liberal leadership to Howard in 1995. Award-winning Australian actor, Lachy Hulme, is believed to be a front-runner to play the long-serving Foreign Affairs Minister, fishnets and all.
The film’s script is being written by former TV funnyman, Steve Vizard, while Snowtown director, Justin Kurzel, is tipped to direct the movie once he completes duties on a new film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is not known whether Howard will be directly involved in the project.
Scharf said he hoped the film could be released worldwide by April 1 next year.
Will you buy a ticket to Man of Steel? Let us know in the comments section below.
* Much as we think this project would be a box office smash, this news story was an April Fools Day hoax.