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DiCaprio sets sights on Teddy Roosevelt story

Martin Scorsese will direct the story of the 26th president
/ Source: Reuters

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who played eccentric aviation pioneer Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese’s last film “The Aviator,” is ready to charge up San Juan hill as Teddy Roosevelt in the director’s next movie.

Paramount Pictures said Monday it has optioned rights to the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the 26th U.S. president, “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt,” by Edmund Morris. Scorsese will direct and DiCaprio will star in the title role.

Screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, whose recent feature credits include “The Human Stain,” will adapt the book for the big screen, a spokeswoman for the Viacom Inc.-owned studio said.

The Morris biography focuses on Roosevelt’s youth and his personal journey from frail child of privilege to Spanish-American War hero as commander of the Rough Riders cavalry regiment, which set the stage for his celebrated political career.

As U.S. vice president under William McKinley, Roosevelt became the youngest man ever to assume the presidency after McKinley’s assassination in 1901.

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“His life reads like a movie that requires a big bag of popcorn,” Meyer told Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety,” which first reported Paramount’s book deal.

“We start at 25, as he begins to transform himself through sheer force of will from this asthmatic, near-sighted 125-pounder to this Sherman tank of a man so tough that he once got shot on the way to make a speech and completed his talk, bleeding with a bullet in his chest,” Meyer said.

The attempt on Roosevelt’s life came in 1912, during his unsuccessful campaign for a third White House term as nominee for the “Bull Moose” party.

The film adaptation of the Roosevelt story would mark the fourth collaboration between DiCaprio and Scorsese, who made “Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator” together. The two currently are working on “The Departed,” a remake of the Hong Kong crime drama “Infernal Affairs.”

DiCaprio and Scorsese both received Oscar nominations for their work in “The Aviator.”