The rivalry between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison is quite literally the stuff of legend. Throughout the late 1880s, the two industry titans and American entrepreneurs clashed over the introduction of a sustainable electricity system in the United States.
Such an intense public spat essentially sparked The Current War, and it’s one that Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) will document through his upcoming period drama. Gomez-Rejon has assembled quite the ensemble cast to do so, too, with Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch on board as Thomas Edison (see above). His rival? Michael Shannon, who signed on in place of his Nocturnal Animals co-star Jake Gyllenhaal to play George Westinghouse. Elsewhere on the casting docket, you’ll find an assembly of top-tier British talent including Nicholas Hoult (Nikola Tesla), Alien: Covenant‘s Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Matthew Macfadyen, and Tuppence Middleton.
Currently lensing in London, Collider caught up with producer Basil Iwanyk to discuss The Current War in detail. When asked about the film’s warring leads, Iwanyk compared Cumberbatch and Shannon’s dynamic to that seen in David Fincher’s The Social Network.
“It’s the story of the race to kind of light up the eastern seaboard, specifically Manhattan, between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. The movie isn’t played like a stodgy period drama, it feels like The Social Network or Steve Jobs. It’s the idea of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs went toe-to-toe to create the lightbulb, and that’s what these characters were. They’re larger than life, and they’re aggressive and tough and funny and geniuses, and that’s the vibe of the movie.”
Iwanyk then went on to discuss Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s approach to 1880s London, along with the amount of creative freedom provided by The Weinstein Company.
“I have to say it was the Weinsteins. They’re the ones that really pushed Alfonso, and they were right. For a movie about light and about lighting the world, you want a director who is a visualist, you want a director who is playful with the medium, and that’s Alfonso. You look at Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it could’ve been a very straightforward YA movie but there’s a real style to it. He was Scorsese’s assistant for a long time, and Scorsese just plays with the medium and filmmaking—that’s what Alfonso does, and it just makes it an event to watch it.”
The Weinstein Company is yet to disclose an official release date for The Current War, but we fully expect Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s period piece to light up 2017-18’s awards circuit when that day comes.