Indicted by the US courts for tax evasion, wire fraud and illegal trading, Marc Rich is to be played by Matt Damon in John Krasinski’s new film “King of Oil.”
John Krasinski went from actor to director with April horror “The Quiet Place” and, as a producer, has his next project lined up — an adaptation of the true story “King of Oil.”
Published in 2009, the Daniel Ammann book details the life, crimes and controversial presidential pardon of Belgian-born billionaire businessman Marc Rich, an international commodities trader prosecuted for his involvement in deals with Iran during an oil embargo and US hostage crisis.
Specializing in oil trading, Rich struck deals with states that were supposed to be under international trade embargoes, including Cuban, Libyan, Chilean and South African regimes of the time and, crucially, 1970s Iran during a period of high tension with the US.
That Iranian partnership led to US indictments on 65 criminal charges, prompting Rich to immediately relocate to Switzerland, escaping prosecution by US Federal Prosecutor Rudy Giuliani.
But in a move that was highly controversial for reasons linked to international relations and financial donations, he was then cleared via a last-day-in-office presidential pardon from Bill Clinton in 2001.
While that decision was cleared through a subsequent federal investigation, Rich never returned to the United States. He died at the age of 78 in a hospital in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 2013.
Known for his turns in the Jason Bourne and “Ocean’s” franchises, as well as off-world sci-fi crisis “The Martian,” sci-fi thriller “The Adjustment Bureau,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and career breakthroughs “Good Will Hunting” and “Saving Private Ryan,” Matt Damon will portray Rich in a movie that has been picked up by Universal Pictures and has Krasinski on board as a producer.
Whether Krasinski, the former star of “The Office”‘s US edition, goes on to direct is not yet confirmed, with Deadline reporting that he “might eventually” do so, but any immediate assumption would be “premature.”
The script has been produced by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, the pair behind 2016 Jesse Owens biopic “Race,” multiple personality drama “Frankie & Alice,” and an upcoming sequel to 2014’s action movie “Edge of Tomorrow” (aka “Live Die Repeat”), which co-starred Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s spouse — as did “The Adjustment Bureau.”
Aspects of the Iranian US hostage crisis were explored in “Argo,” the Oscar-winning movie that starred and was directed by Damon’s “Good Will Hunting” co-star Ben Affleck.
The connections don’t end there, as Krasinksi and Damon — both originating from Boston — co-wrote and co-starred in another oil-related project, 2012 fracking drama “Promised Land.” They also worked behind the scenes as producers on “Manchester by the Sea.”