Downey saddling up for "Cowboys"

Mon Jun 16, 2008 1:22am EDT

1 of 2. Robert Downey Jr of the U.S. arrives for the premiere of 'Iron Man' at the Leicester Square Odeon cinema in London April 24, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Hird

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Newly minted A-lister Robert Downey Jr. is in negotiations to star in DreamWorks/Universal's "Cowboys & Aliens," a pulpy mix of the sci-fi and Western genres that could serve as a potential 2010 tentpole release.

The deal would be Downey's first since propelling Marvel Studios' "Iron Man" to $500 million-plus in worldwide loot (and growing). He next will be seen in the comedy "Tropic Thunder" in August, followed by the drama "The Soloist" in November, both for DreamWorks.

"Cowboys & Aliens" derives from a graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley from an original idea by Rosenberg. The story centers on an Old West battle between the Apache and Western settlers, including a former Union Army gunslinger named Zeke Jackson (Downey), that is interrupted by a spaceship crashing into the prairie near Silver City, Arizona.

The story draws a parallel between the American imperialist drive to use advanced technology to conquer the "savage" Indians and the aliens' assault on earthlings, who must join together to survive the invaders' attack.

The project has been in development at several studios over the past 10 years. Among the writers who have drafted versions of the adaptation are David Hayter ("X2: X-Men United"), Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer ("Sahara"), Jeffrey Boam ("Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"), Thompson Evans ("Wedlocked"), Chris Hauty ("Never Back Down") and Steve Oedekerk ("Evan Almighty").

The most recent draft, by "Iron Man" and "Children of Men" writers Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus, clearly hit the right notes, as the project looks poised to gain its major players quickly.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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