Leonardo DiCaprio is in final talks with MGM to star in and produce the studio’s upcoming biopic, Jim Jones. The Oscar-winning actor is in negotiations to portray the drama’s title character, the religious cult leader who was behind the mass-suicide in Jonestown on November 18, 1978. The filmmaker will also produce the feature for his Appian Way company with its president of production, Jennifer Davisson, Deadline is reporting.
MGM picked up the script for Jim Jones in a reported seven-figure deal. The screenplay was penned by Scott Rosenberg, who’s known for being one of the scribes on the first Venom movie from 2018. The writer will also serve as an executive producer on the upcoming biopic.
Jim Jones will chronicle how the eponymous character founded the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis in 1955, and described it as a fully integrated congregation that promoted Christian Socialism. But by the 1970s he openly rejected traditional Christianity and claimed that he was God.
The religious leader went on to build Jonestown in Guyana in 1974 and amassed a following to live with him there, which he called a socialist paradise that was free from U.S. government oppression. Upon hearing rumors that the members of the community were suffering from human rights abuses, the U.S. government sent a delegation there that was led by U.S. Representative Leo Ryan there in November 1978. Ryan and four other Jonestown defectors were eventually gunned down by Jones’ followers.
After the shooting, Jones orchestrated the mass murder-suicide amongst his followers. Overall, a total of 909 commune members died at the settlement, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma and at a Temple-run building in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city. During the mass death, Jones’ followers drank Flavor Aid laced with cyanide.
Before starring in Jim Jones, DiCaprio will next be seen in Netflix’s upcoming sck-fi comedy, Don’t Look Up, which was written, directed and produced by Adam McKay. The movie also stars fellow Academy Award-winning performer, Jennifer Lawrence, as well as Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep and Ariana Grande.
Besides Don’t Look Up, DiCaprio will also appear in Apple Originals Films’ Killers of the Flower Moon. The Western drama, which reportedly wrapped production earlier this year, is being helmed and produced by his frequent collaborator, Martin Scorsese, and co-stars Robert De Niro.
Since its launch, Appian Way has released a diverse slate of movies, several of which have starred DiCaprio, including Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning epic Western, The Revenant; Martin Scorsese’s Academy Award-nominated biographical black comedy, The Wolf of Wall Street; and the Oscar-nominated biographical drama, The Aviator. The production company’s other credits include DiCaprio’s neo-noir psychological thriller, Shutter Island, and George Clooney’s Golden Globe-nominated political drama, The Ides of March. Appian is currently in production on Apple+’s Shining Girls, which stars Elizabeth Moss.