Bradley Cooper is in early discussions to star in Guillermo del Toro and Fox Searchlight’s adaptation of Nightmare Alley.
Cooper apparently received an offer recently, and while it’s currently unclear if a deal will close, Variety’s sources claim that both sides have engaged in talks. Cooper would take the place of Leonardo DiCaprio, who passed on the project after a deal could not be reached.
Del Toro will direct the film, and co-wrote the script with Kim Morgan. Nightmare Alley is being produced and financed by del Toro and J. Miles Dale with TSG Entertainment, with Fox Searchlight acquiring worldwide distribution rights to the film.
Fox Searchlight made a Nightmare Alley movie in 1947, though this film will be based primarily on the William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. The 1947 movie starred Tyrone Power as an ambitious young con-man who teams up with a female psychiatrist that is even less scrupulous than he is. At first, they enjoy success fleecing people with their mentalist act, but things go south when she starts using their tricks on him.
After The Shape of Water went on to win several Oscars, including Best Picture and Director for del Toro, he decided to hold off on picking his next directing gig, only making a film-related appearance as a producer on the Searchlight movie Antlers.
Cooper is coming off a hugely successful 2018 that included his directorial debut A Star Is Born, which not only went on to gross more than $400 million worldwide, but earned several Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Cooper. He also recently appeared opposite Clint Eastwood in the crime drama The Mule. Cooper is currently developing Bernstein, a Leonard Bernstein biography that he also intends to star in and direct.
Nightmare Alley shoots this fall, with del Toro filling out the remaining roles in the meantime.