Suggesting that Bradley Cooper might have formally found a new niche for himself in the world of playing grizzled, alcohol-reliant public performers, Variety reports today that the Star Is Born actor-director is in talks to star in Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. Adapted—as was the 1947 version, starring Tyrone Power—from William Lindsay Gresham’s novel of the same name, the film would chart the rise and fall of a con man with a knack for passing himself off as a psychic. (So, kind of like your standard John Edward-type, but with more biting the heads off of chickens.)
Del Toro has been trying to line up a cast for the movie for a minute now; back in April, we reported that Hollywood’s favorite sexy-fishman fisherman had potentially hooked Leonardo DiCaprio for the role of Stanton Carlisle, an upwardly mobile grifter with a taste for dangerous women and (occasionally) chicken blood. DiCaprio reportedly passed, but Cooper has now moved into his place; he’s apparently considering an offer.
Both the film and novel version of Nightmare Alley are generally held up as classics, using sensationalist trappings to tell a very human story about the lengths a guy will go to to make a buck. It seems like prime material for both Cooper and del Toro, who’s directing in addition to working on the screenplay with Kim Morgan.