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Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood is circling true-story drama The Mule, based on the life of 90-year old drug courier Leo Sharp, to be his next directorial project. Even though Eastwood is pushing 90 himself, he hasn’t slowed down and is keeping himself rather busy. In the last few years, he’s helmed Best Picture nominee American Sniper, biopic Sully, and next month’s thriller The 15:17 to Paris. Those three films are similar in that they cover the lives of real people who experienced extraordinary events. In the case of Paris, Eastwood went so far as to cast the actual American heroes as themselves in order to give it authenticity.
The Oscar-winner has shown a penchant for these types of films recently, so it isn’t surprising he’s interested in tackling another one in the near future. But should this movie come into fruition, Eastwood wouldn’t just be calling the shots from behind the camera; he’d also be looking to star in the title role.
This news comes courtesy of The Tracking Board, who say if Eastwood comes on board, he would portray Sharp, in addition to directing and producing. As has become customary for his films, The Mule is being set up at Warner Bros. Weeds scribe Dave Holstein is responsible for the latest version of the script, which was originally penned by Eastwood’s Gran Torino writer Nick Schenk.
Sharp’s story certainly has all the makings of a compelling film. After serving in World War II (winning a Bronze Star Medal) and making a name for himself as a famous horticulturist, he started smuggling drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel in the 1980s. He was eventually apprehended in 2011 when he was in possession of 200 pounds of cocaine. Fortunately for Sharp, his punishment wasn’t too severe, as he only served three years in prison once his lawyer successfully claimed Sharp’s dementia was to blame for the situation. Sharp, who passed away in December 2016, was considered the world’s oldest drug mule. There was a previous attempt to bring this tale to the big screen in 2014, when Imperative Entertainment hired Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer for the job.
On-paper, the premise of an elderly drug trafficker being tracked by the DEA has the makings of an absurd dark comedy in the vein of the Coen brothers, so it will be interesting to see how Eastwood’s sensibilities fit the material. He is primarily known for straightforward, classical dramas, as illustrated by his recent output. However, he has dabbled out of those confines from time to time in his career, so perhaps he’s looking for a new challenge at this point in his career. Should The Mule come to pass, it’ll be one to check out.