Steve Carell is continuing to place more of a focus on drama. The actor has just signed on to star in Marwencol, the upcoming feature film based on Jeff Malmberg’s 2010 documentary of the same name.
Marwencol follows the story of Mark Hogancamp, an artist and photographer suffering from memory loss following a traumatic assault. To cope with the subsequent struggle, Hogancamp builds a miniature version of World War II-era Belgium in his backyard, which he calls “Marcenwol.” To populate the mini-village, he also creates dolls with life-like identities, meant to represent himself, his friends, and even his attackers. He mends his physical wounds by manipulating the small dolls and props. He also uses the dolls to act out various battles and stories in an attempt to help him with cope with his attack and create new memories to replace the ones that he’s lost.
When Mark begins documenting his miniature scenarios with his camera, his photos are discovered, published, and even shown in a New York art gallery. The discovery of his art soon forces Mark to make a choice between the safety of his fictional town and the real world that he’s tried so hard to avoid.
The original documentary earned widespread critical acclaim in its debut, landing a spot on the year-end top 10 lists of multiple publications, like New York Magazine and NPR. It also won awards for Best Documentary from the Boston Society of Film Critics and at South by Southwest.
According to The Wrap, Carell is now attached to portray Hogancamp in the upcoming feature version of Malmberg’s documentary, which Universal first optioned in 2013. Robert Zernickis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) is on board to direct the film adaptation from a script written by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands). Meanwhile, Malmberg will serve as an executive producer on the project.
Universal’s Marwencol project fits in with Hollywood’s current remake trend of turning critically acclaimed documentaries into star-studded feature films. The film is only the latest in a slew of documentary-inspired dramas set to hit theaters soon, such as Batkid Begins, starring Julia Roberts, and The Walk, featuring Joseph Gordon Levitt. The documentaries Virunga, The Seven Five, and Our Brand Is Crisis are all also set to get their own biographical movie adaptations.
For Carell, the gig comes as the actor seems to be shifting more of his attention from comedy to substantial dramas. Since leaving The Office, Carell has taken on an increasingly wide-ranging series of roles, mixing his usual comedy fare (The Anchorman 2, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) with family-friendly flicks (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) and indie dramas (The Way, Way Back). This year, he garnered critical acclaim and his first Oscar nomination for portraying the eccentric billionaire John du Pont in Foxcatcher. Now, he’s set to continue taking against-type roles with coming projects.
In addition to Marwencol, Carell has several other dramas headed our way. He’s next scheduled to star in this year’s biographical film Freeheld, which is based on a 2007 documentary short film of the same name. The actor is also currently filming the upcoming financial drama The Big Short, adapted from Michael Lewis’s 2010 book of the same name and co-starring Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, and Ryan Gosling.