The Natural is moving from the diamond to the dugout.
Robert Redford, who played a fictional Babe Ruth-esque hero named Roy Hobbes in 1984’s classic baseball film, The Natural, is ready to take on another sports legend.
The actor-director will essay the role of Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in a biopic of Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the Major League.
According to Daily Variety, Baldwin Entertainment, the producers of Ray, will team up with Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises to produce the picture.
Redford has been developing the project on the Civil Rights pioneer with the consent of Robinson’s widow and Rickey’s son.
“It’s a simple story, and one that most don’t know abouthow the color barrier was broken and changed the face of baseball and ultimately the country,” Redford told Variety.
The still-untitled film will focus on Robinson’s trials and tribulations after signing with the Dodgers in 1947, as he battled bigotry from both players and fans to stake out equal rights for African Americans, while laying the groundwork for the end of segregation.
The story will trace the athlete’s youth in Southern California through his days starting for the Dodgers under Rickey, where he prevailed despite receiving death threats from fans, encountering tension from his teammates and facing the threat of a strike by the rival St. Louis Cardinals.
(Robinson, by the way, ended up playing himself in The Jackie Robinson Story, a 1950s film about his wild entry into the majors.)
Kirk Ellis, who nabbed an Emmy for writing the TV movie Anne Frank: The Whole Story, and who also wrote The Beach Boys: An American Family, will pen the screenplay.
No word yet who’ll portray Robinson. However Baldwin Entertainment Chief Howard Baldwin is definitely eyeing Ray star, Jamie Foxx, a no-brainer considering Foxx won a Best Actor Academy Award portraying Ray Charles, in last year’s biographical film about the music icon.
Baldwin–who’s a veteran producer of sports flicks including Mystery Alaska and the upcoming The Game of Their Lives–told Variety the movie will reportedly end when Robinson takes the field for the Dodgers.
Aside from getting the Robinson movie up and running, Redford meanwhile recently revealed his intention to reunite with his most famous onscreen partner, Paul Newman, for one last go-round before Newman’s promised retirement after two more pictures.
The two, who invented the “buddy picture” with 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and 1973’s The Sting, are looking to team up for a film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods.
“That might be something for Paul Newman and me, if we’re not too old,” said Redford. “That’s if Paul can hang on long enough, and we can get him on the Appalachian Trail before he gets in a wheelchair.”
The thespian’s next project however will be starring opposite Jennifer Lopez in the drama An Unfinished Life for director Lass Hallstrom.