Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer Biopic Will ‘Go Beyond’ With Director Michael Winterbottom
Russ and Roger Go Beyond has been in the works for some time now — the film, which covers the working relationship between esteemed film critic Roger Ebert and filmmaker Russ Meyer, has so far only cast Will Ferrell in the role of Meyer, while the role of Ebert remains vacant. But there’s some forward momentum on the project now, as The Trip director Michael Winterbottom has entered negotiations to direct the film.
Winterbottom is known for The Trip and its recent sequel, The Trip to Italy, two beloved films that make for a wonderful, unlikely franchise (our own Matt Singer calls it the best current franchise on the planet). According to Variety, Winterbottom is in talks to helm Russ and Roger Go Beyond, which explores the friendship between Ebert and Meyer and the time the pair spent together making Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It was a surprising friendship: Ebert was an acclaimed film critic, while Meyer was the director of sexploitation films like Mondo Topless and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Ferrell has been attached to the role of Meyer for some time now, while Josh Gad was previously rumored to be considering the role of Ebert — that’s an intimidating part, particularly following the critic’s recent passing in 2013. Back in January, Gad responded to those rumors by saying “We’ll see,” and that’s the last we heard about Ebert’s casting. (I could see someone like Michael Stuhlbarg in the role under the right circumstances.)
Production is set to begin later this year on Russ and Roger Go Beyond, with a script by Emmy award-winning SNL writer Christopher Cluess. Winterbottom recently directed the BBC drama The Face of an Angel, which hits theaters on June 19.