One of the first projects Alex Proyas (Dark City, The Crow) was connected to after the release of his last film, 2009's Knowing, was a big screen adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's novella The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag. It fell to the wayside, though, after Proyas pursued even bigger projects Dracula Year Zero and Paradise Lost starring Bradley Cooper. Now that both of those projects have in turn fallen to the wayside, Unpleasant Profession is back in the spotlight. And we're glad it is, because even though we'll watch anything Proyas does, it's the most intriguing of the three.
Deadline shares that a quartet of production companies, including Proyas' own Mystery Clock Cinema, are uniting to fully fund and co-produce the film, which is projected to go in front of cameras in Australia Fall of 2012. The story has echoes of the director's best films, Dark City and Knowing, as it concerns a one Mr. Hoag who realizes at a dinner party that he doesn't know what he does for a living. The reason for that is simple and disconcerting: Hoag feels himself at night, but he can't remember what he does during the day. So he hires a husband and wife detective team to tail him to find out where he goes and what he does when he gets there.
What they find involves shadowy figures with ominous warnings that Hoag is not to be trusted, an underground and ancient cabal, and various supernatural implications that cast doubt on reality itself. And while all of those things are visually and thematically right up Proyas' alley, The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag has a bit more going on under its hood than even Dark City. It'll be interesting to see if Proyas can communicate it all on film considering it's all a commentary on life, artists, creators, critics and how we each play one of those parts. All of that burden lay with him, after all, considering he's also writing the screenplay.
This marks the second Heinlein adaptation in recent years to gain some traction. Starship Troopers is currently being prepped for a readaptation/remake at Sony
, while at one time Zack Snyder was making motions to develop the anthology story The Illustrated Man. Of the three two*, this is easily the most enticing, so here's to hoping this doesn't end up as yet another high-concept Proyas film that never gets off the ground.
*Our apologies, The Illustrated Man is a Ray Bradbury work, not Heinlein.