Ang Lee Departs FX Drama Pilot 'Tyrant'

Ang Lee
Frank W. Ockenfels 3

When asked to share an interesting interaction with a fan, Ang Lee said: "Recently I was interviewed by this woman journalist. At the end, she said, 'I want to see you doing Fifty Shades of Grey.' ”

It seems Ang Lee's post-Oscar move won't be an FX TV pilot after all.

The Life of Pi director has pulled out of Tyrant, a high-profile drama pilot from Homeland's Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under's Craig Wright that he had signed on to helm, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. 

"It is one of the most brilliant ideas for a series that I’ve seen and one about which I was very excited. However, after spending over four years making and promoting Life of Pi, I have recently realized that I need some rest," explained Lee, who is currently on the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, in a statement Monday. "Because I cannot give 100 percent to this exciting project at this time, I cannot allow myself to do anything that may affect the potential for this exciting new series."

The Fox 21 project, which FX snapped up in a competitive situation, revolves around an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle East nation. The studio will look for a replacement for Lee immediately, and does not imagine the news will dramatically impact the shooting calendar. Morocco is among the potential pilot locales that has been discussed.

Lee had signed on just weeks after the Feb. 24 awards show, in which he beat out rivals including Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) for the best directing Oscar. His decision to make his follow-up a television series pilot was as much a commentary on the state of cable TV as it was on that of film. It's no secret that cable is increasingly known for its rich character development and envelope-pushing plot lines, a shift that has coincided with the major film studios' growing reliance on superhero tentpoles over character-driven stories.