Making a very promising directorial debut with the war torn romance In the Land of Blood and Honey, Angelina Jolie nevertheless was mostly ignored when the Oscar race came around. The film only received a limited release and didn't make a lot of noise, but it showed that all of the years she had spent working under some of Hollywood's top directors didn't go to waste. And now for her follow-up, Unbroken, Jolie is going bigger, and Universal is making sure her film gets in front of as many people as people.
Universal has dated Unbroken for Christmas day 2014, with Jack O'Connell coming aboard to take the lead role. He had been a finalist alongside Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) and Alexander Dreymon, but won the job after screen testing. Based on the non-fiction book by Lauren Hillenbrand, the story centers on Louis Zamperini, an Olympian and WWII pilot whose plane crashed in 1943, leaving him adrift at sea for nearly two months until he was captured by the Japanese. Sent to a POW camp, Zamperini was the subject of brutal experiments and torture, becoming the target of a sadistic guard whose goal was to break him physically and mentally. Zamperini endured until the end of the war, but suffered terrible nightmares and alcoholism afterwards, until he found God and learned to forgive the sins of his captors.
It's a meaty role, and the sort of story that the Academy loves to recognize with Oscar gold. Combine that with Jolie's celebrity credentials, plus a screenplay by the Coen Brothers, and Unbroken is going to be a very big deal. O'Connell will also be seen next year in 300: Rise Of An Empire.