It’s about damn time iconic silent film actor Buster Keaton got a biopic project! The guy led such a fascinating and crazy life in the early days of Hollywood, and his story will finally be told as a limited series! The project is set up at Warner Bros. and Rami Malek is set to play the vaudeville-turned-silent comedy movie star.
The project gets even better, though, as The Batman director Matt Reeves is set to produce and helm the series! Three-time Emmy winner Ted Cohen (Friends, Succession, Veep) is in negotiations to write and serve as an executive producer alongside Reeves and Malek.
The book Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life, by James Curtis, will be used as the source material for the series, and the studio is currently in the process of securing the rights to the book.
Keaton starred in such silent films as The Playhouse, Cops, The Electric House, Sherlock Jr,, The General, and many more. He also did all of his own death-defying stunts on the films he made! To this day he’s considered one of the great physical comedians in movie history. His stunt-work is still considered some of the more impressive set pieces to ever be done.
His most famous film was the 1929 movie The General, “One of the most revered comedies of the silent era, this film finds hapless Southern railroad engineer Johnny Gray (Keaton) facing off against Union soldiers during the American Civil War. When Johnny’s fiancée, Annabelle Lee, is accidentally taken away while on a train stolen by Northern forces, Gray pursues the soldiers, using various modes of transportation in comic action scenes that highlight Keaton’s boundless wit and dexterity.”
Keaton was born into a vaudeville family and while he became quite successful, his career took a dive after he signed a deal with MGM and lost his artistic independence. After that, his wife divorced him, and he became an alcoholic. However, after he got his act together 1940s, his career rebounded. He ended up getting remarried and earned an Academy Honorary Award in 1959.
Last year it was announced that 20th Century Studios was developing a Buster Keaton biopic with James Mangold directing.
There’s some great talent on board to develop this project, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Fun fact: Buster Keaton is my 8th cousin four times removed.
Here’s the description of the book that the series will be based on:
It was James Agee who christened Buster Keaton “The Great Stone Face.” Keaton’s face, Agee wrote, “ranked almost with Lincoln’s as an early American archetype; it was haunting, handsome, almost beautiful, yet it was also irreducibly funny. Keaton was the only major comedian who kept sentiment almost entirely out of his work and . . . he brought pure physical comedy to its greatest heights.”
Mel Brooks: “A lot of my daring came from Keaton.”
Martin Scorsese, influenced by Keaton’s pictures in the making of Raging Bull: “The only person who had the right attitude about boxing in the movies for me,” Scorsese said, “was Buster Keaton.”
Keaton’s deadpan stare in a porkpie hat was as recognizable as Charlie Chaplin’s tramp and Harold Lloyd’s straw boater and spectacles, and, with W. C. Fields, the four were each considered a comedy king–but Keaton was, and still is, considered to be the greatest of them all.
His iconic look and acrobatic brilliance obscured the fact that behind the camera Keaton was one of our most gifted filmmakers. Through nineteen short comedies and twelve magnificent features, he distinguished himself with such seminal works as Sherlock Jr., The Navigator, Steamboat Bill, Jr., The Cameraman, and his masterpiece, The General.