Uzodinma Iweala is a Washington DC-born author with close familial ties to Nigeria, so it makes sense that he’d be interested in writing about the various goings on in Africa. And his 2006 novel, “Beasts of No Nation,” is such a stirring tale and was such a success with readers, that it makes sense Hollywood would want to turn it into a movie – and they’ve been trying to, for a few years now.
A new report from Deadline says that the story looks like it’s finally going to be coming to the big screen for real though, because not only does it now have an exciting name attached to come on and direct, but it’s also got an exciting name attached to one of its lead acting roles as well. As we’ve seen time and time again while monitoring the developmental phase of upcoming film projects, it’s when all of those pieces fall into place together that a movie actually gets made.
According to Deadline’s report, Beasts of No Nation is being developed by Red Crown Productions, who have attached Cary Fukunaga to direct the film, and Idris Elba to play one of the featured roles. Fukunaga is a hot young talent who blew everyone away with his immigration drama Sin Nombre and then followed that up with an impressively moody adaptation of Jayne Eyre, and Elba is an actor who pretty much everyone has been predicting big things for ever since his impressive turn on HBO’s The Wire, and who recently seems to finally be breaking through to that upper echelon of the acting world that everyone always knew he could get to. The guy is super handsome and super talented, after all, so it’s not much of a surprise to see him popping up in blockbusters like Prometheus and Pacific Rim, or taking the lead in high-profile dramas like Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. By the time this one gets made, he could be one of the most bankable stars in the world. Who knows?
Probably you’re wondering what this story is about and what kind of role he’s going to be playing though. Well, Amazon’s description of Iweala’s book describes it by saying, “In this stunning debut novel, Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. Haunted by his father’s own death at the hands of militants, Agu is vulnerable to the dangerous yet paternal nature of his new commander. While the war rages on, Agu becomes increasingly divorced from the life he had known before the conflict started – a life of school friends, church services, and time with his family still intact.” As you likely instantly envisioned, Elba will be playing that “dangerous yet paternal” new commander, a role his natural presence and charisma seems made for.
Fukunaga said of his involvement in the film, “This project has been seven years in the making, so to say I’m excited to start shooting this – and with Idris Elba as lead – would be me trying to play it cool. Red Crown has real moxie standing behind this story.” It sounds like all of the pieces are in place for Beasts of No Nation to be a real contender once it gets released and becomes eligible for golden statues – especially if Elba manages to get recognition for playing Nelson Mandela before its release. Monitoring the trajectory of that guy’s career over the next few years should be very interesting indeed.