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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bening, Hopkins join 'Hemingway' cast

Source: Variety

Andy Garcia has landed Anthony Hopkins and Annette Bening to star with him in "Hemingway and Fuentes," which Garcia will direct from a script he wrote with Hilary Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway.

The drama chronicles the two decades that Hemingway spent in Cuba fishing with his best friend, Gregorio Fuentes. There, the author fell in love with a beautiful Italian girl who inspired him to write "The Old Man and the Sea." Garcia will play Fuentes, and Bening will play the author's third wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway.

Garcia will produce, and Mark Amin of Sobini Films is exec producer. Garcia's CineSon and Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Group are shopping the film to international buyers at AFM with Sobini Films.

For Garcia, the project has been gathering momentum since the 1970s, when his passion for offshore fishing brought him in contact with some of the grizzled anglers who bent a rod alongside Ernest Hemingway in Cuba in the 1940s and '50s, chasing giant marlin.

“I was specifically most interested in Hemingway’s connection to Cuba, where he spent the last 20 years of his life, and his relationship with his last captain, Gregorio,” Garcia said. “As an avid fisherman, I got to know older Cuban fisherman who knew Gregorio from the fishing culture of the 40s and 50s, and who would compete in tournaments outside the city of Havana, which was really the beginning of competitive fishing.”

Garcia wrote a script, then put it down to direct the 2005 pic “The Lost City.” He was introduced to the author’s granddaughter by a mutual friend, saw a documentary she made about Hemingway, and began collaborating on a script that is squarely set in the fishing adventures Hemingway and Fuentes experience aboard Pilar, the modified 34 foot Wheeler Playmate craft.

Garcia has been hoping for months to land Hopkins, who recently committed to do the film after he completes "Thor." Now Garcia feels he has the bait to hook the financing to make the picture next summer, mostly in the Caribbean rim, and a location to replicate Ketchum, Idaho, where Hemingway moved and committed suicide shortly thereafter.

“Anthony is one of the greatest actors, and I’d heard he’d been interested in playing the character in the past,” Garcia said. “I’m blessed that he responded. The marketplace is ever changing in the film world, so you’re trolling many baits, waiting to see where the strikes are. Officially, we are going out with the movie and starting conversations with all foreign distributors. I’ve done about six movies that way, and sold domestic later. When I worked with Francis Coppola on `The Godfather 3,’ he said the way you make a movie is, you begin. We’ve begun.”

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