What Hollywood knows better than anyone, is that truth is not only stranger than fiction but it also has the potential for adaptation. The latest real-life human tragedy ready for cinema treatment is that of the Chilean mining disaster back in 2010. The incident which trapped 33 Chilean miners underground for 69 days obviously attracted attention as human suffering makes for compelling viewing. Aptly titled, The 33, Antonio Banderas and Martin Sheen have signed on to star as two of the miners.
Banderas, who just finished work on Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups, will play Mario Sepulveda. Dubbed by the press as Super Mario, Sepulveda was responsible for the men’s video journals sent topside to keep the rest of the world in the loop. Sheen’s role has yet to be revealed, though he’d be suited to play the onscreen counterpart of Luis Urzula, the foreman who lead the men to safety or Mario Gomez, the religious stalwart of the group.
Producer Mike Medavoy attained the rights to the story last year. Working in conjunction with the men involved and their families offers hope that the story won’t veer off into contrived Hollywood bunkum. The story of human triumph over unspeakable fear is of course, intriguing. There’s nothing the studios love more than a tale ripe for Oscar consideration that’s based on an actual event. Previous attempts at such films have been mixed. Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center is a prime example.
Patricia Riggen, whose credits include La Misma Luna and the Eva Mendes-vehicle, Girl In Progress, will direct the film. Scripting duties are to be handled by Mikko Alane and Jose Rivera.
Sheen has recently finished shooting on Undiscovered Gyrl, and is in the middle of filming The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s been a while since the actor has tackled anything this gritty. Could this be the film that finally lands him an Oscar nomination?
Production on The 33 is scheduled to begin this Autumn.