George Clooney, the Oscar-nominated director of 2006’s Good Night, and Good Luck, has zeroed in on The Notebook heartthrob Ryan Gosling for the starring role in his upcoming directorial project, Farragut North, an adaptation of Beau Willimon’s award-winning 2008 play about the treacherous world of campaign politics. Gosling is currently negotiating with Clooney to play the lead role, based loosely on Willimon’s own experience working for the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, of “Stephen” – an idealistic and cocky young communications director whose meteoric rise is undermined by the backroom politics of the campaign’s more seasoned operatives.
Warner Bros. first optioned Farragut North in 2008, when the play debuted to rave reviews in New York City with a cast that included Chris Noth (Sex and the City) Olivia Thirlby, and later Star Trek‘s Chris Pine, when the production moved to Los Angeles’s Geffen Playhouse. Although Leonardo DiCaprio was originally said to be eyeing the lead role for the film adaptation, it appears that Clooney’s Smokehouse Productions has decided to go with a somewhat younger actor for the role. That’s probably a good move, since Gosling (age 29) is much closer in age to Pine (30), while DiCaprio, at 35, somehow manages to look a decade older than both. And Gosling isn’t short on cachet either, having been Oscar-nominated for his turn as high school teacher Dan Dunne in Half Nelson in 2007.
Although it’s not yet clear whether financing for the film has been secured, Deadline reports that Clooney expects production on Farragut North to begin this March. In the meantime, film fans can rejoice that Clooney has finally headed back behind the lens (not that he isn’t incredible in front as well) for another topical political drama that will hopefully recapture the spirit and critical praise of Good Night, and Good Luck.