Steve Carell to Star in Robert Zemeckis’s Next Documentary Remake

By  · Published on April 17th, 2015

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

This is apparently Robert Zemeckis’s documentary remake phase. Following his career stages as a director of technologically innovative movies and then a director of motion capture animated features, the man behind Back to the Future and Forrest Gump is now onto his second effort based on a popular nonfiction film. First is The Walk, a biopic starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit, who was the subject of James Marsh’s Oscar winner Man on Wire. That hits theaters this October. The second is Marwencol, based on Jeff Malmberg’s Cinema Eye winner of the same name. And The Wrap reports that Steve Carell is in negotiations to star as the doc’s subject, Mark Hogancamp.

The story of Hogancamp goes from tragic to inspiring. He was beaten into a coma 15 years ago and awoke more than a week later with most his memory gone. As a form of therapy, he has recreated a massive World War II scene using action figures and other toys and takes photographs of them for an ongoing art project. His miniature world features developed characters and continuing narratives, but it’s not just a grown man playing with dolls. Could Carell’s role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin (also a Universal release), a guy who collected action figures, cloud the seriousness of Hogancamp’s situation? That might be worth consideration by Zemeckis.

Carell has previously been linked to a number of other promised documentary remakes that still haven’t happened, including narrative versions of Young@Heart and Of All Things. Marwencol appears to be going forward, though. We first heard about Zemeckis optioning the rights to the doc and Hogancamp’s story back in 2013, but I had assumed that the director’s undertaking of the Man on Wire remake was a substitute, as if he could only be interested in the one doc remake. Might he go for a third, afterward? If he doesn’t already have in mind, he can look through my list at Nonfics of projects already announced.

Malmberg is serving as an executive producer on the remake of his doc, and a script by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) was finished this week.

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.