Though Channing Tatum has made a great home for himself staying in school way past his age limit, he’s lined up a very compelling project to produce and utilize as a potential starring vehicle as someone who left college behind long ago and found his genius in an arguably unorthodox way. Struck by Genius is the true story of Jason Padgett (based on his memoir of the same name), a hard-partying dude who suffered a serious, traumatic brain injury at the age of 31 after getting brutally mugged.
The violent incident isn’t even the whole story here; it’s the fact that Padgett’s brain injuries led to him becoming the first documented case of acquired savant syndrome – with the added result of extreme mathematical synesthesia as part of the package. Effectively, after being brutalized, the shift in Padgett’s brain turned him into a mathematical genius who could see geometric shapes and mathematical formulas everywhere he looked. What’s your excuse for struggling through 10th grade Algebra?
Tatum, who is producing the film under his Free Association banner, is poised to star as Padgett. After being kicked in the head repeatedly, his brain was shown to light up in two specific areas – those that control math and mental imagery. Before the incident, he was never advanced in math; a college dropout who worked in retail, Padgett said that he couldn’t even draw. But now, here he is staring at thin air and producing a perfect apparition of the Pythagorean Theorem. You need to know every digit of Pi, right now? You’ve got your man.
Padgett’s story is clearly something that needs to be seen onscreen to be appreciated for its bizarre realities. With the right director and writer in place, as well as a suitable artist to illustrate Padgett’s beautiful visions – which we do know what they look like, as Padgett has illustrated many of them – this could be a fascinating redemption story; it starts with a tragedy and morphs into the tale of a normal man with almost superhuman abilities – the only person to ever receive those powers, in fact.
As for Tatum, starring as the mathematical savant could open doors. Is this Tatum’s Good Will Hunting? A math genius whose potential is unlocked after a life of having it hidden away? He’s obviously an immense delight in comedies and action movies and as a stripper and lego character and Step Up protagonist (don’t think we all forgot), but with rave reviews for the upcoming Foxcatcher, and roles in a Wachowski Siblings film (Jupiter Ascending) and a Coen Brothers joint (Hail, Caesar!), he’s stepping up (sorry).
Tatum is talented, and has the chops to bring Padgett’s incredible tale to life. If anyone has to suffer through constant mathematical visions interfering with their life, it’s only right that the rest of the world sees what they’re seeing as well.
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