Wes Anderson doesn’t do the “adapted screenplay” thing very often—only once, in point of fact. But when he does it, he does it for Roald Dahl.
Hence news from THR this weekend that Anderson has lined up his next project (after the upcoming Asteroid City), an adaptation of Dahl’s short story collection The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar And Six More. The film is set up at Netflix, a first for Anderson.
Published in 1977, the book collected a mixture of new and older stories by the British author, including two autobiographical pieces detailing his life as a writer and as a fighter pilot in World War II. The title story centers on a rich dilettante who teaches himself how to see through objects and look into the future through meditation; he subsequently uses his abilities to cheat extensively at gambling in order to fund a worldwide series of orphanages. (It also contains a supremely dark sequence that has lodged itself in our memories for more than 20 years now, in which the titular Henry Sugar imagines looking into his own body and finding a blood clot slowly making its way to his heart. Roald Dahl: Grim, even at his most heartwarming.)
Anderson has already begun casting on Sugar, most notably by putting Benedict Cumberbatch—a newcomer to his ever-expanding menagerie of regular players—in the title role. (He’ll also, per THR, play other characters, serving as a bit of connective tissue between the various stories.) In addition to the Power Of The Dog star, Anderson has also cast Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley in the film, all in as-yet unannounced parts. Fiennes is the only member of the group to have worked with Anderson in the past, having starred in the director’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Anderson previously adapted Dahl (in stop-motion) for his 2009 film The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Dahl has been adapted extensively at this point, of course; the most recent such effort was Robert Zemeckis’ version of The Witches, released in 2020.