After being attached to lead Megalopolis for a long time now, Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Moon Knight) has reportedly exited Francis Ford Coppola’s long-in-development epic drama film, according to Showbiz 411. The outlet notes that casting search for a new lead actor is currently underway, with Coppola planning to start its production this September in New York.
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Last year, the Oscar-winning filmmaker revealed that he was assembling an all-star cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Cate Blanchett, Jon Voight, Zendaya, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, and The Godfather alum James Caan. However, it’s still unclear if negotiations with the said actors have pushed through or not. Coppola also confirmed that he’s spending his own money so that his dream project could achieve its target budget of over $100 million.
Megapolis has been Coppola’s passion project since the 1980s. Set in modern-day America, it reportedly centers around the aftermath of a devastating disaster, where an architect wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia. The 82-year-old filmmaker has confirmed that the story will get to explore timely themes, while also featuring Roman epic influences.
“The concept of the film is a Roman epic, in the traditional Cecile B. DeMille or Ben-Hur way, but told as a modern counterpart focusing on America,” Coppola explained. “It’s based on The Catiline Conspiracy, which comes to us from ancient Rome. This was a famous duel between a patrician, Catiline, and that part will be played by Oscar Isaac, and the famous Cicero, who will be Forest Whitaker. He is now the beleaguered mayor of New York, during a financial crisis, close to the one that Mayor Dinkins had. This story takes place in a new Rome, a Roman epic sent in modern times. The time set is not a specific year in modern New York, it’s an impression of modern New York, which I call New Rome.”
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There have been many times in the past that Coppola tried to start the production on the project. However, due to certain unchangeable setbacks including directorial obligations to The Godfather trilogy and the 9/11 attacks, making Megalopolis a reality has indeed become a difficult task for the filmmaker. Despite this, his determination hasn’t wavered through the years, and he is still confident that he’ll be able to finally make his dream project.