Mike Newell to direct Robert De Niro in The Comedian

Role as ageing comic recalls DeNiro’s famed performance as unhinged stand up hopeful in Martin Scorsese’s early 80s classic The King of Comedy

The Bafta-winning director of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mike Newell, will oversee Robert De Niro’s turn as a funnyman in long-gestating drama The Comedian, reports Deadline.

Newell takes the directing reins from Sean Penn, who was attached to a previous iteration of the project way back in 2011. That version had De Niro finding love with a dazzling and defiant redhead, portrayed by then up-and-comer Kristen Wiig, but casting for the new take has not yet been confirmed.

The Comedian inevitably recalls De Niro’s famed turn in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy as an ambitious standup hopeful and unhinged stage-door autograph hound. The lead character, described as an “insult comic” comparable to the American actor’s former Casino co-star Don Rickles, was previously described as a man who “clings to any recognition of his former fame in the hope of reviving his now stagnant career”. The new take remains based on a screenplay by Art Linson and Jeffrey Ross, a Comedy Central regular who has reportedly written the jokes. Linson previously delivered the screenplay for What Just Happened?, the 2008 Barry Levinson satire on Hollywood which starred De Niro as a producer with a number of personal and professional travails.

De Niro, 71, remains as busy in front of the camera as ever. He is set to reunite with David O Russell on Joy, the Silver Linings Playbook director’s Jennifer Lawrence-led biopic about the inventor of the Miracle Mop, and will reportedly play Enzo Ferrari in a biopic of the famous sports car entrepreneur’s life. The two-time Oscar-winner will also be seen later this year in Nancy Meyers comedy The Intern, opposite Anne Hathaway, and has just finished filming Scott Mann casino heist thriller Bus 657.

Contributor

Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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