George Clooney to Direct, Star in WWII Stolen Art Drama 'Monuments Men' for Sony

George Clooney is preparing to chase down artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

The actor-filmmaker has optioned the nonfiction book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, by author Robert M. Edsel, which he will adapt with producing partner Grant Heslov for Sony Pictures, THR has confirmed. It will likely serve as a starring vehicle for the Descendants star.

The book tells the story of the U.S. government’s effort to retrieve artwork stolen by Hitler's forces and the art experts whose skills are put to use in the campaign. The title comes from the name given to the U.S. and U.K. art historians and museum curators who helped the military track down the stolen pieces.

Unlike Clooney's previous directing efforts, Good Night, and Good Luck and The Ides of March, the Monuments film will likely have a big budget and play to a larger, more commercial audience. 

“I’m not opposed to doing a commercial film, I’m just opposed to doing a commercial film that doesn’t feel organic to me,” Clooney told the blog The Wrap at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Saturday. “So if we’re going to do a commercial film we thought, 'Let’s do something that seems fun and actually have something to say.'”

Clooney is generating strong Oscar buzz this year for acting in The Descendants and for directing Ides of March. He is nominated for Golden Globes for both films. He will next be seen in Alfonso Cuaron's space drama Gravity opposite Sandra Bullock and is a producer on Argo, being directed by Ben Affleck.

He and Heslov's Smoke House Pictures is based at Sony, which released Ides.

Clooney is repped by CAA, which also reps Edsel (who wrote the book with contributor Bret Witter).

Peter Oberth
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