Steven Spielberg had been planning his next directing gig, Harvey, since August. However according to Variety he has now withdrawn from directing due creative disputes with Robert Downey Jr., his potential lead.
Spielberg delivered the news this week to 20th Century Fox, which had earmarked soundstages on the Fox lot in anticipation of an early 2010 production start. Fox had agreed to have DreamWorks finance 50% of production through its new funding relationship with Reliance, and either distribute domestically or internationally through its arrangement with Disney.
Pic—an adaptation of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a man who befriends a six and one-half foot tall invisible rabbit—has been a challenge to pull together since Spielberg committed last August. One of the biggest challenges has been setting a star for Elwood P. Dowd, a role played in the 1950 film by James Stewart.
Spielberg’s first choice was Tom Hanks, but the actor who is often regarded as a modern day Stewart wanted no part of taking over a role played by the iconic star. Spielberg and Fox spent several months courting Robert Downey Jr. While the “Sherlock Holmes” star never committed, he did make suggestions on rewrites of the Jonathan Tropper script. He and Spielberg never found themselves in creative synch on the script, and the director finally called the whole thing off.
This means that Spielberg has no current project lined up to direct. Tintin finished filming in March and will now spend the next two years getting rendered at WETA under Peter Jackson’s supervision. There is a possibility Spielberg could now focus his attention on the Abraham Lincoln biopic with Liam Neeson, which I was actually looking forward to more than Harvey.