Matthew McConaughey will star in The Billionaire’s Vinegar, according to Deadline, but his role in the movie is not disclosed. Adapted from a 2008 book of the same name, the project has been in development for a while and previously had Brad Pitt rumored for the lead with David Koepp writing and directing. That was many years ago, but now Sony is on track with the true tale and I assume McConaughey is set to play counterfeit wine dealer Hardy Rodenstock (real name Meinhard Görke). He’s rather young and rather thin for the role, but otherwise the controversial real-life figure kinda resembles McConaughey’s character from Bernie.
The other major character in the story is the titular billionaire, Bill Koch, who has mistakenly spent millions on fraudulent wines sold by multiple con men, including convicted counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan and Rodenstock. The latter’s batch of bogus vino is notable because it was a while before it was realized that his 200-year-old Chateau Lafite said to have been owned by Thomas Jefferson were fakes. By that time, Koch and others had paid Rodenstock hundreds of thousands of dollars per bottle. McConaughey is also rather young and rather thin for that part. Could the actor be playing author Benjamin Wallace in a version focused on the investigatory nature of the book?
There’s also Michael Broadbent, the 87-year-old wine expert in charge of the auctioned off Rodenstock’s Jefferson batch. The movie will probably start out in the mid-1980s, when the first Jefferson Lafite was sold for a record price to Kip Forbes (of Forbes Publishing), so the ages of the characters aren’t as big a deal as they seem, and it would be a familiar challenge for McConaughey to age – and maybe widen – on screen as the narrative advances in decades.
While there is no director presently named to helm the movie, IMDbPro currently lists regular David Koepp collaborator John Kramps (Premium Rush) as screenwriter. That’s likely an old draft. Meanwhile, The Billionaire’s Vinegar will be produced by Will Smith and his Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds team of Todd Black, James Lassiter, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch.
Below, watch a CBS Sunday Morning segment on the story this movie is based on. They concentrate on Koch, and Rodenstock isn’t really seen at all, but it’ll provide you with a primer for the true tale of wine fraud.