Ridley Scott to Direct True Kidnapping Film; Natalie Portman May Star

Filmmaker Ridley Scott is set to direct a film based on the real-life kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973.

Titled All the Money in the World, the project stems from a Black List script (Hollywood’s yearly selection of the best unproduced screenplays) by David Scarpa and will tell of the horrible kidnapping of a 16-year-old boy and the attempts by his mother, Gail Harris, to get the boy’s rich grandfather to pay the ransom.

This is shaping up to be quite the high-profile project. As reported by Deadline, circling the role of the mother is Oscar winner Natalie Portman, who came into the mix after Angelina Jolie had to walk away from an offer due to scheduling conflicts. Jack Nicholson’s name has been rumoured for the role of the grandfather, although it seems unlikely he’ll sign up. Imperative Entertainment is producing and financing the picture; Sony Pictures has acquired worldwide distribution rights.

It’s certainly a tragic true story. Getty wasn’t exactly loved by his grandfather, rich oilman John Paul Getty Sr, who initially refused to pay a ransom demand of $17 million. Getty Sr believed the kidnapping to be a hoax, a thought fueled by the fact he considered the boy to be a rebellious, spoiled child. It was no hoax; the family received a lock of the boy’s hair and his severed ear in the mail. Gail, who had divorced Getty Sr’s son earlier and had refused the father’s offer of money at that time, did what she could to convince the man to pay up. He finally relented, slightly, paying $2.2 million (the max that could be claimed for tax purposes) and lending another $700,00, which he wanted repaid with interest. The boy was soon freed. The ordeal lasted 6 months.

John Paul Getty III never recovered from the experience. He became addicted to drugs and at 24 suffered a major heart attack that left him paralysed and partially blind. He passed away in 2011 aged 54.

Scott will be directing All the Money in the World next, pushing back a planned adaptation of the Don Winslow bestseller The Cartel, which is to reunite him with Body of Lies actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

But before all that, we’ll be receiving Scott’s third Alien picture, Alien: Covenant, arriving in Australia on May 18 and opening in the US on May 19.

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