Leonardo DiCaprio is set to play the infamous Russian mystic and confidante of the Romanov Russian royal family, Rasputin, in a new biopic, reports Deadline.
Studio Warner Brothers has picked up the rights to Jason Hall’s screenplay with the aim of casting the Oscar-nominated star of Django Unchained and Catch Me If You Can to take the lead role. DiCaprio reportedly likes elements of the script which centre on Rasputin’s life as a twin whose brother died early, leaving him missing the better part of himself.
The film industry, as you would expect, has long had a ball with its portrayal of the sunken-eyed and bearded advisor. Some of his better-known onscreen renditions include that in Hammer Horror’s 1966 film Rasputin: The Mad Monk (which starred Christopher Lee) and the Disney rip off style 1997 animated musical Anastasia, where he was voiced by Christopher Lloyd (with Jim Cummings performing his solo number, “In the Dark of the Night”).
Rasputin was a Russian mystic and advisor to the Romanovs, the Russian Imperial family. He was never officially connected to the Orthodox Church but considered a “strannik” (or pilgrim) wandering from cloister to cloister. He was even regarded as a starets (“elder”, a title usually reserved for monk-confessors) by those believing him to be a psychic and faith healer. He impressed many people with his knowledge and ability to explain the Bible in an uncomplicated way.
Hall’s screenplays include the upcoming Bradley Cooper drama American Sniper, about a real life US navy seal called Chris Kyle who officially killed over 160 people in the line of duty. He is also working on the project Thank You for Your Service, about soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Steven Spielberg may direct.