Jennifer Lawrence and Director Francis Lawrence Are the Latest to Take Over James Cameron’s The Dive

By  · Published on January 17th, 2015


In the fall of 2003, James Cameron filmed the record-breaking “no limits” free dive of Pipin Ferreras, which was a special event commemorating the death of Ferreras’s wife, Audrey Mestre. A year earlier, she drowned attempting the same feat of reaching a depth of 170 meters (557.7 feet) while holding her breath. During the press conference for the 2003 dive, Cameron confirmed earlier reports from that summer that he would be making a movie about the couple, and it would wind up being based on Ferreras’s 2004 memoir, “The Dive: A Story of Love and Obsession.”

More than a decade later, Cameron has been focusing his directorial interests on the Avatar movies, but he’s continued developing the project with other filmmakers coming on board to take the helm. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) became attached back in 2012, and now Francis Lawrence is the latest substitution, according to The Wrap. He also has an actress joining him for the role of the late diver: his Hunger Games leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence. Apparently she has a strong desire to work with Cameron.

The script has also gone through many drafts, beginning with Dana Stevens (Safe Haven) in 2004, followed by Laeta Kalogridis (Terminator Genisys) as of 2006, and then J. Michael Straczynski (Changeling) was hired when it was Campbell’s project. The Wrap’s report claims Stevens (also?) wrote the most recent version.

One thing that we can be sure of is that it won’t be looking to ESPN’s 2013 documentary No Limits, produced for the Nine for IX series (a female-focused offshoot of 30 for 30) and directed by Alison Ellwood (Magic Trip). That film portrays Ferreras rather negatively, to the point of implying he’s guilty of at least negligence in the cause of Mestre’s death (he has threatened a lawsuit, though mainly over footage used in the doc).

There’s also the book “The Last Attempt,” which is by a former partner of Ferreras named Carlos Serra (who appears in the doc) and definitely hints that the couple was on the verge of divorce and it probably wasn’t an accident – though not murder, either. Serra believes this was a failed plot aimed at making Ferreras look like a hero when he saved his wife following a mere mishap. If so, he must not have seen the 2000 movie The Contender, which involves a similar scheme gone wrong.

Cameron appears to be friends with Ferreras and will therefore be keeping the movie far from acknowledging any of the allegations against him. That’s fine, as it will be more of a tragic love story, a la Titanic. And I have the perfect suggestion for who should play the male lead opposite Lawrence, because he looks enough like the real guy: Titanic’s Billy Zane.

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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.