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Angelina Jolie has settled on her leading man to anchor the Universal drama Unbroken.
Jack O’Connell, best known for his role on the British series Skins, will tackle that role of real-life World War II hero Lou Zamperini.
The actor, who will be seen as Calisto in the March release 300: Rise of an Empire, beat out a bevy of up-and-comers for the coveted part of the Los Angeles high school track star-turned-Olympian (he raced in the 1936 Berlin Olympics). In 1943, Zamperini’s 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.
Ethan and Joel Coen penned a recent draft of the screenplay, which is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 best-seller. Universal picked up the rights to the book in January 2011, and William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese worked on previous drafts before Jolie took the film’s reins in December. The movie is scheduled to open in December 2014.
Jolie is producing with Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff.
O’Connell is repped by CAA and Conway van Gelder Grant in the U.K. Rise of an Empire opens March 7, 2014.
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