History’s Real-Life Fantasy Character: Rasputin Gets Hollywood Green Light

There are a lot of films released every year that are sci-fi or fantasy in nature. But not many of them are able to boast being based on a true story. One such supernatural true story in the works has gained some traction after being linked to one of Hollywood’s most prominent leading men. Deadline.com is reporting that Warner Bros. has bought a pitch for a film about Grigori Rasputin starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the mythical Russian.


Czar Leo I

For those unfamiliar with the story or maybe you’re a bit rusty since high school history class, here’s the short version. Rasputin was an advisor to the Russian imperial family around the turn of the 20th century. With an unofficial connection to the Orthodox Church, he was considered by some to be a monk, a psychic, and a faith healer among other things. But his alleged propensity for sexual promiscuity and overall shadiness was at the forefront of his criticism.

But this isn’t why anyone cares about Rasputin in the history books. After unbelievably surviving an assassination attempt that left his guts hanging out, it took a series of different methods one night to finally do him in. A group of men first poisoned him with cyanide laced cakes and wine, but Rasputin proved to be immune to poison. He was then stabbed and shot repeatedly after he kept getting up after each murder attempt. He was then knocked unconscious, wrapped in a carpet and drowned in a frozen river. Sure enough he died from that. The legend continues that when some of his enemies dug up his remains and set them on fire, the corpse reanimated and sat up in the blaze. But that was ultimately the end of Rasputin.

Are you intrigued yet? Various internet sources tell me that ol’ Raspy’s final hours are impossible to prove one way or another and that his assassins had varying accounts of the drama. But either way, this story is definitely interesting enough to base a film on. We are still very early on in the development stage, but the interest of DiCaprio and Warner Bros. for the project before it has even been written will get the hype ball rolling.

The big question is how the script will approach the character’s dramatic final night. For me, that is a defining factor for the film. Sure his unusual rise in Russian politics is interesting, but if this guy had died the first time he was “killed” then we would not even be having this conversation. Since we are, I have high hopes for the death scene.

In terms of genre, the film has the makings of a historical drama, but we know fantasy when we see it. The character is so fantastical that “Hellboy” even employed Rasputin as a super villain in the comic books and the 2004 film. That blurry series of events associated with his death have caused dozing high school students to momentarily wake up for decades, so now it’s time we get Hollywood to give its account.

Writer Jason Dean Hall, who is also writing the film “American Sniper” for director Steven Spielberg, will pen the Rasputin script. The character isn’t exactly new to film having been presented before in multiple different incarnations, but audiences will get to see a major Hollywood version with an A-Lister’s name above the title. That’s enough to get me to the theater.