As one of the last remaining true movie stars, Leonardo DiCaprio chooses his film projects very carefully nowadays. Having previously portrayed Jordan Belfort and J. Edgar Hoover, it looks like he’s zeroed in on playing another controversial real-life figure. The actor is in advanced talks to play notorious cult leader Jim Jones in an upcoming film for MGM.
Jones was the leader of the People’s Temple religious group, which was founded in Indianapolis in 1955 and promoted Christian Socialism, rejecting traditional Christianity and proclaiming that he was God. He built Jonestown in 1974 in Guyana and grew a following to live with him in what was claimed to be a socialist paradise free from the oppression of the U.S. government.
However, Jones’ declining mental and physical health, and a visit from U.S. Representative from California’s 11th congressional district Leo Ryan, led to the infamous November 1978 mass suicide that took more than 900 lives – including over 300 children – after Jones and his inner circle directed his followers to drink cyanide-adulterated punch.
Scott Rosenberg (High Fidelity, Venom) is writing the script, and DiCaprio is also in talks to produce the project alongside Jennifer Davisson for their Appian Way banner.
There have been many films and documentaries made about Jones and the massacre, but this would easily be the biggest. DiCaprio remains one of the best actors around, and it will be fascinating to see what he does to tap into the darkness of the cult leader.
It will also be interesting to see what sort of perspective Rosenberg’s script is told from. Will this be a movie chronicling the entirety of Jonestown? Or a smaller psychological profile of a mentally ill narcissist?
DiCaprio will next be seen in Adam McKay‘s climate change comedy Don’t Look Up, which debuts on Netflix on Christmas Eve. He will also have a supporting role in Martin Scorsese‘s Killers Of The Flower Moon, which stars Jesse Plemons and Robert De Niro and is being developed for Apple.