Brad Pitt to Star in Angelina Jolie’s Africa

By  · Published on January 28th, 2015

Twentieth Century Fox

It’s not super huge news that Brad Pitt is in negotiations to star in Angelina Jolie’s fourth directorial effort, Africa (the real story might be why he has to negotiate to star in his own wife’s movie). They’re both appearing together in her upcoming feature By the Sea, and it makes sense that they’d like to keep working together.

But this is Brad and Angelina – Brangelina if anyone’s still calling them that – and a biopic now worth paying attention to. Not just because Jolie will again collaborate with director of photography Roger Deakins, who is currently Oscar-nominated for her second feature as director, Unbroken (but not shooting By the Sea), but because I can’t imagine Pitt playing the guy he’s playing – that’d be paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey.

The focus of Africa will be on Leakey’s work for the Kenya Wildlife Service, through which he made many enemies while battling the elephant poaching trade. Consider this the pachyderm equivalent of Gorillas in the Mist, maybe, although Leakey was never killed by poachers like Dian Fossey was. However, and I’m sure this has to be part of Jolie’s movie, Leakey did have his legs crushed in an airplane crash that is thought to have been caused by his foes.

The time period for all this is 1989 to 1994, when he resigned from a then-corrupt KWS. So, the video below, of a 1992 interview, gives us a look at the man as Pitt shall portray him. Just imagine the actor gaining a bit of weight and speaking with a higher-pitched British accent. He’ll either come off as silly or deserving of an Oscar.

For more on Leakey’s achievements, see the currently Oscar-nominated documentary Virunga on Netflix. He’s not in the film, but he had a part in the protection of the mountain gorillas at Virunga National Park and his granddaughter, Louise Leakey is somewhat involved with the film.

And for more on Africa, which was scripted by Eric Roth – who wrote Forrest Gump, meaning he’s already dealt with characters with amputated legs, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which also starred Pitt – here is a quote from last fall from Jolie: “I’ve felt a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life, and was taken with Eric’s beautiful script about a man drawn into the violent conflict with elephant poachers who emerged with a deeper understanding of man’s footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him.”

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.