Leonardo DiCaprio Playing 24 Split Personalities in 'The Crowded Room'

Monday, 02 March 2015 11:23 Written by  iamrogue
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Leonardo DiCaprio Playing 24 Split Personalities in 'The Crowded Room'

Leonardo DiCaprio is signing up for the acting equivalent of a strongman competition, a role that will test his screaming, DiCaprian intensity as few have, a role that is really twenty-four roles.

The actor is set to star in The Crowded Room, the true story of Billy Milligan, the man who successfully pleaded insanity in court on account of his multiple personality disorder.

In the late 1970s, Milligan was charged with three rapes on the University of Ohio campus, as well as armed robbery.  He was acquitted because the crimes were carried out by two of his personalities without his knowledge.  Adalana, a 19 year-old lesbian personality, confessed to the rapes, while Ragen Vadascovinich, a Yugoslavian Communist, committed the robberies.

Those two only scratch the surface of Milligan's variegated selves, which also included a deaf child, an Australian big game hunter, a comedian, a dapper Englishman, a conman, a dyslexic little girl, and an escape artist saxophone-player.  Obviously, this represents a massive undertaking for any actor, an awards season showpiece to end all awards season showpieces.

That's why DiCaprio has been eager to play Milligan for almost two decades.  In the early 1990s, after Terminator 2, James Cameron (working with Todd Graff) adapted the 1981 non-fiction book The Minds of Billy Milligan as a screenplay entitled A Crowded Room.  After casting John Cusack in the role, a series of lawsuits erupted and Cameron moved on.  DiCaprio first became associated with the role in 1997, and over the years directors like David Fincher and Joel Schumacher have dallied with The Crowded Room, which has nonetheless remained a hypothetical movie.

Milligan's story is a whole lot more likely make it to the big screen now.  New Regency has dusted off the project, which it will co-produce with DiCaprio's Appian Way.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, New Regency has hired Lucky Number Slevin scribe Jason Smilovic and first-timer Todd Katzberg to write a new script based on Keyes' book.  DiCaprio will produce alongside Jennifer Davisson and Alexandra Milchan.

The actor is still in production on New Regency's The Revenant based on the true odyssey of 19th century fur-trapper Hugh Glass.  He stars as Glass in the ambitious wildnerness thriller from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu, the helmer who just collected a couple of Oscars for Birdman.

Once The Revenant finally finishes shooting, DiCaprio has plenty of options, since he always keeps a number of projects on the developmental fire.  The one we're most intrigued about, other than The Crowded Room, is American Nightmare, the story of Richard Jewell, the security guard who discovered a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics then had his life torn apart as the media and law enforcement pounced on him as a suspect.  DiCaprio's on board to play Jewell's lawyer, with Jonah Hill as the guard himself and Paul Greengrass possibly directing once he finishes his return to The Bourne Identity franchise.

The Crowded Room may still be a long way off, but between the source material and DiCaprio, there's no doubt that this one will attract a top-tier director.  Maybe DiCaprio's buddy Martin Scorsese?  Or maybe David Fincher will circle back to the project?  Stay tuned.

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