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Coen Brothers to Rewrite Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' (Exclusive)

Cohen Brothers Angelina Jolie Inset - H 2013
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Joel, left, and Ethan Coen; inset: Angelina Jolie

Jolie is directing the project centering on World War II survivor Lou Zamperini.

Ethan and Joel Coen are teaming up with Angelina Jolie to tell the story of World War II hero Lou Zamperini.

The Coen brothers have been tapped to rewrite Unbroken, the adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 book, for Universal -- which has been trying to mount a Zamperini story in some form or fashion for decades.

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Universal picked up the rights to the book in January 2011, initially for Francis Lawrence to direct. Jolie boarded as director in December. She has spent weeks searching for top-flight writers to tackle the project, with sources saying the director was extremely choosy.

William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese worked on previous drafts pre-Jolie.

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Zamperini was a Los Angeles high school track star who raced in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1943, his Air Force plane crashed in the Pacific. He survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.

Jolie is producing with Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff. Walden Media will co-finance.

Among the top screenwriters in town, the Coens have been nominated five times for Academy Awards in the writing category, winning for No Country for Old Men and Fargo. The brothers usually direct and produce what they write, but they take on assignments in rare cases.

They are repped by UTA.