Three-and-a-half years ago, Alexander Payne signed on to direct an adaptation of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s travel articles My Saga for Bona Fide Productions, and now the film is finally heading into production — with Mads Mikkelsen in final negotiations to star.
Netflix has made a deal to finance and release the film, which is now untitled. Mikkelsen will play a Danish journalist who takes a road trip with his teenage daughter across the U.S. as he writes a story for a newspaper. Knausgaard is a Norwegian author who traced the Vikings’ historic trek through the Northern U.S. in two lengthy articles published in the New York Times Magazine last year. He was joined on his comedic, often absurd journey by Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael — though clearly, the script has changed.
Erlend Loe wrote the script, and Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa will produce for Bona Fide along with Lizette Jonjic of Zentropa Productions. The film will begin shooting next month in Sweden, Denmark and the U.S. and Netflix beat out several other suitors for the project. The streamer will release Payne’s next film in Fall 2020, and it could prove to be an awards contender for the company, given how the original series of articles resonated with readers.
Payne had been prepping the dark comedy The Menu with Emma Stone and Ralph Fiennes slated to star, but that project hit a significant bump in the road, and it was my understanding that Payne was no longer attached. Quite frankly, I don’t think Stone or Fiennes are attached anymore either, as they had attached themselves based on the idea of working with Payne.
Payne is a two-time Oscar winner who won for co-writing Sideways and The Descendants, both of which he also directed. His most recent film, Downsizing, underperformed at the box office, and I like that Payne is returning to smaller-scale fare with this Netflix movie. He previously worked with the Bona Fide duo before, as Berger and Yerxa also produced his acclaimed movies Nebraska and Election.
Mikkelsen recently turned in a powerhouse performance in Joe Penna‘s survival drama Arctic, which I fear will be unfairly overlooked come awards time. He also stars alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in Doug Liman‘s big-budget adaptation of Chaos Walking, which will hit theaters next year. He’s represented by UTA, while Payne is repped by CAA. Deadline broke the news.