After tackling the life of David Foster Wallace in this summer’s magnificent The End of the Tour, filmmaker James Ponsoldt now has his sights set on another iconic author for another feature film. Per Deadline, the Spectacular Now and Smashed director is in talks to write and direct an adaptation of the Stewart O’Nan novel West of Sunset, which has been described as a novelized biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. It focuses on the latter years of the author’s life, when he was in poor health, financial trouble, and had his wife locked away in a mental asylum. He went to Hollywood in 1937 with the aim of starting anew as a screenwriter, but would die in 1940. Too much to hope for Tom Hiddleston and Allison Pill reprising their roles from Midnight in Paris?
This is actually fitting material for Ponsoldt, as The End of the Tour finds Jason Segel playing Wallace, an author who struggled with his quick rise to fame and eventually committed suicide. That movie is wonderfully told with both sensitivity and an intimacy that’s a direct result of Ponsoldt’s impeccable talent behind the camera, and one imagines he’ll bring the same qualities to a telling of this crucial period in Fitzgerald’s life. West of Sunset also offers the opportunity to delve into the lives of a number of literary greats, as the book has flashbacks to Fitzgerald’s heyday surrounded by folks like Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart.
The project is being put together by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, but West of Sunset will not be Ponsoldt’s next film. He’s currently focused on assembling an adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel The Circle, with Tom Hanks set to star. Ex Machina standout Alicia Vikander was previously poised to co-star, but scheduling conflicts with a pair of high-profile franchise properties (Assassin’s Creed and Bourne) forced her to drop out. An offer is currently out to Emma Watson in the hopes of starting production later this year.
Ponsoldt was previously working on a film about Hilary Clinton’s college years called Rodham, but it appears as though that may have fallen by the wayside due to Clinton’s presidential campaign. Which is a shame, because that project sounded terrific.