Steinbeck's novel centers on the intertwining stories of the Hamilton and Trask families, from the early 20th century through WWI. Their lives would greatly reflect the Biblical tales of Cain and Abel and Adam and Eve. Elia Kazan adapted the novel into a classic film in 1955 starring James Dean and Richard Davalos as the Trask brothers, who frequently competed for the attention of their hard working farmer father, Adam. Ross plans to split the story into two films divided by generation, with Lawrence starring as the cruel and heartless Cathy Ames.
Paul Attanasio (Homicide: Life on the Street) wrote the initial script as the project has been bouncing around Hollywood for awhile, but Ross will probably want to give it a rewrite. So this is still a little ways off, which should give Ross plenty of time to direct Peter Pan origin story Peter and the Starcatchers. Between this and Steven Spielberg's The Grapes of Wrath remake, Steinbeck is suddenly hot again. How long before Of Mice and Men gets another shot?
That may not be all for Lawrence and Ross, either, as they are currently shopping an adaptation of Hannah Kent's bestselling novel, Burial Rights, about an Icelandic woman accused of murder in 1829. Here's the official synopsis....
Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.
Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
Lawrence and Ross should have no problem finding another backer given their Oscar pedigree and her obvious popularity. Burial Rights sounds like the sort of dark, moody material that earned her first Oscar nomination for Winter's Bone, and she may get a similar response for what will be a very flashy performance in East of Eden.