Exclusive: Matt Damon and Keira Knightley Offered Leads in Tender is the Night Remake
20th Century Fox is developing a movie based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel Tender is the Night. David Nicchols (Starter for 10, Simpatico) wrote the script.
The top choices for the the central characters, and the two actors who have been offered the parts, are Matt Damon and Keira Knightley. Both, actually, are great for the parts: In the vein of Atonement and Revolutionary Road, it's about the psychological disintegration of a young married American couple on the French Riviera in the 1920s. Damon would play Dick, a promising young doctor and a husband to Nicole (Knightley), whose wealth puts him in a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlight's Dick's traumatic demise.
I've read the book (though I have not seen the 1962 version), and Damon and Knightley would be ideal. Will they actually accept? It certainly seems the sort of project Knightley cottons to; she was, after all, in Atonement and has a history of period pieces. Her schedule would also seem to accommodate the pic -- she's got several projects in the production at the moment, but nothing beyond the next year, and there's no way this film begins lensing until late this year or next (there's no director attached yet). Damon, on the other hand, despite being one of the hardest working actors in the business, has so much going on that Tender is the Night probably wouldn't make sense for him unless they got a A-list director with whom Damon would desperately want to work (or offered him the directing gig, as he's expressed an interest). Sometimes, checks with lots of zeroes on them can help persuade an actor, too.
Who knows? We'll have to wait and see if they accept. With Sam Mendes off apparently doing Oz: The Great and Powerful, I'm not sure who the next go-to-guy is for a disintegration of marriage film would be, but if they want Damon, Fox might want to look at Soderbergh to direct. Damon never turns that man down for anything.