Writer Paul Haggis‘ Honeymoon With Harry, considered by many to be one of the best unmade scripts in Hollywood, is again showing signs of life after years of false starts. Deadline reports that Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper sat down at De Niro’s Tribeca Production offices two weeks ago to read the lead roles in a run-through organized by New Line. Now, director Jonathan Demme (Jimmy Carter Man From Plains, Silence of the Lambs) is circling the project for his next feature, meaning Haggis’ script may finally be gaining the momentum it needs to enter development.
In what Deadline calls a “James Brooks-style look at two characters who loathe one another but are stuck together at a time when each is in desperate shape,” Cooper read the role of a “formerly self-centered womanizing booze-hound who changed his ways when he met a girl and fell in love.” De Niro read as “the girl’s father, who recognizes himself in the young man, and tries to break them up.” The two get engaged anyway, but the girl dies tragically just before their wedding day, leaving the groom to go on their honeymoon alone, where he drowns his grief in booze. There, he runs into his would-be father-in-law, who has come to spread his daughter’s ashes on the beach.
New Line and producer Mike Karz began developing the project, which has both comedy and drama elements, in 2004, when the studio bought an unpublished novel by Bart Baker, and assigned screenwriter and director Paul Haggis (In The Valley of Elah, Crash) to write the screenplay. Haggis eventually signed on to direct as well, and had Vince Vaughn and Jack Nicholson lined up to star. Unfortunately, the project fell apart amidst the chaos of the New Line shakeup in 2008 and the 2007-2008 writer’s strike.
Luckily, Cooper became interested in the project, and brought his pal De Niro (with whom he just wrapped production on The Dark Fields) onboard as well. Though no deals have yet been made, it looks like Honeymoon With Harry may finally be edging towards development. With its stars attached and Demme circling to direct, it’s beginning to sound like we’ll actually get to see what all the fuss is about one day.