Film based on 'Black Mirror' episode 'in development hell' after Robert Downey Jr's option runs out (exclusive)

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‘The Entire History of You’ appeared in season one of Black Mirror
‘The Entire History of You’ appeared in season one of Black Mirror

Jesse Armstrong wants the film industry to know that the script based on his Black Mirror episode is available to option.

“The Entire History of You” was the third and final episode of season one of the British science fiction anthology series, which Robert Downey Jr. optioned in 2013 after reportedly winning a bidding war against George Clooney to turn it into a sci-fi thriller for the big screen.

Armstrong, who co-created Peep Show and Fresh Meat, gave Yahoo Movies UK an update about the film during a conversation about his new HBO and Sky Atlantic TV show Succession.

“I think it’s now available again so let’s make this interview an advertisement that someone else can option it,” the British writer explained. “It’s not currently being made. It’s in development hell! It’s not progressing but we do [want it made].”

Right now Armstrong is focused on his new series which centres on a dynastic media family and the somewhat Shakespearean-level of drama that encroaches on their privileged lives.

Succession centres on a dynastic media family in New York
Succession centres on a dynastic media family in New York

“The attitude of the show towards these people is investigative or satiric, but we take a cool view of this world,” he says. “I think that the power of those media families shaping the politics that we’ve got now has been really, really important and I think we’re not in good shape, so I think its a really legitimate area to think about.”

Brian Cox plays Logan Roy, the family patriarch who Armstrong says looked to a classic Shakespeare character for inspiration.

“I know Brian Cox thinks a lot about King Lear when he’s playing the part and that’s the things that might be there when you think about a powerful parent doling out the spoils amongst there kids,” Armstrong explains. “I think it would be awful if we were self-consciously overreaching for it but it’s nice to have those [Shakespearean] resonances.”

The writer has a long history of writing about politics and current affairs with credits including The Thick of It, Veep and In the Loop, but it’s not the first time he’s shown interest in the dynamics of a media family. His script Murdoch, about the aging patriarch and owner of News Corp, appeared on the 2010 Blacklist for the best-unproduced screenplays most liked by film industry figures but it was never picked up.

(clockwise) Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, Nicholas Braun, Jesse Armstrong, Kieran Culkin, Hiam Abbass and Brian Cox
(clockwise) Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, Nicholas Braun, Jesse Armstrong, Kieran Culkin, Hiam Abbass and Brian Cox

“That Murdoch script never went anywhere but I remained interested in the area,” Armstrong says. “Then a few years later, I was going to try and do a big US show and [thinking] what would be a good arena?

“I was reading about these people like Sumner Redstone who owns Viacom, which owns CBS, and the Roberts, another dynastic multigeneration media family who own ComCast, which owns NBC. We have the Sinclairs who are buying all of the local media and are a right-wing family, and the Mercers who own Breitbart and did own Cambridge Analytica.

“It started to feel more than this one family, that this is not an isolated incidence of a dynastic power,” he adds, “how they get a hand on power and what it’s like when a lot of political and cultural power coalesces in one family.”

Succession airs on Thursdays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic

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