Maybe they should rename Snowbate as Sunbate. The state’s feature film funding incentive will draw in a rare studio project later this month according to the Minnesota Film & TV Board.
Woody Harrelson is reportedly in negotiations to star in “Wilson” as aging suburban misanthrope lonely and dissatisfied following a long ago divorce. Following his father’s death he seeks out his drug abuser ex-wife, a part offered to Laura Dern. When he learns of his teenaged daughter, born privately after the breakup, Wilson strains to pull them all together for his last attempt to create a family.
A mixture of poignancy and comedy, it’s based on the graphic novel by writer/illustrator Daniel Clowes. One of his earlier comic book sagas inspired 2001’s “Ghost World.” "Art School Confidential," a college farce based on another Clowes comic, followed in 2006. He wrote both scripts, earning an Academy Award best screenwriting nomination for his first at bat, and is expected to pen this feature as well. "Wilson" is being directed by Craig Johnson, whose pessimistic Sundance comedy hit "Skeleton Twins" cast Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as estranged siblings.
"Wilson's" filming is expected to concentrate on metro locations. Despite recent indie efforts such as “Dear White People” and “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter,” Minnesota hasn’t hosted a significant studio project since the Coen brothers’ best picture nominated “A Serious Man” in 2009. The 2011 dark romance “Young Adult,” scripted by City Pages alum Diablo Cody, and starring Charlize Theron, was based in the Twin Cities but shot in the metro for only a few days.
Nevertheless, there’s a small feeling of Hollywood homecoming in the new production. The producers of “Wilson” include Edina native Jim Burke (who also produced ‘Kumiko”) and Sam Raimi (who directed the 1998 thriller “A Simple Plan” with Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thorton, and Bridget Fonda in and around Delano.) The 2005 Iron Range courtroom drama “North Country” starred Harrelson (alongside Theron in her first Minnesota feature film and Frances McDormand in her follow-up to “Fargo.”) And Dern was here in spirit last year while filming “Wild,” which cast her as the Chaska-based mother of local memoirist Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon.)