Two of Hollywood’s most versatile performers are looking to team up. Laurence Fishburne and Idris Elba are in talks to join the film adaptation of The Alchemist. Fishburne is set to produce and direct while Elba will star. Written by Paulo Coelho, the plot follows a young shepherd boy named Santiago as he embarks on a spiritual journey to interpret the meaning of a recurring dream.
The Alchemist is one of the major literary works of the 20th century; selling more than 65 million copies and being translated into 56 different languages. Acquiring the rights to the book several years ago, this is a long time passion project for Fishburne. He will team with The Weinstein Company to produce the film.
The Weinstein Company only cares for Oscars, and this is a high prestige project. Fishburne has only directed one film, Once in the Life, which came out in 2000. That being said, his acting resume is beyond reproach and goes all the way back into the 70s. The sheer wealth of his filmography outweighs any potential hindrance or inexperience he has as a filmmaker.
Fishburne’s recent success as an executive producer for the ABC hit show Black-ish also provides high hopes as he looks to expand his work behind the camera. Elba has become a stamp of approval for the quality of any movie or television show. He’s amassed a huge following since playing Stringer Bell on The Wire. Elba is a bona-fide star; his considerable and diverse fan base will help this film crossover. He’s also been generating significant buzz for his performance in the upcoming Netflix distributed film Beasts of No Nation.
The spiritual nature of The Alchemist will actually play in its favor; it crosses the same parallels as another successful book to screen adaptation, Life of Pi. Directed by Ang Lee, Life of Pi also had a long development period before its successful release. There’s already a golden paved road for success for this type of film, as both Fishburne and Elba’s resumes will only make this film all the more worth seeing despite its long development cycle.