John McAfee
Photo: Tim Mosenfelder (Getty Images)

It was a 2012 Wired article that first exposed the world to the bizarrely wild life of multi-billionaire John McAfee, who invented his namesake antivirus software before losing his goddamned shit and moving to the Belizean jungle to fight drug warlords (or something?). A Showtime documentary on McAfee followed in 2016, and a feature film, King Of The Jungle, was announced soon after. Johnny Depp was slated to star but, likely due to his own erratic, McAfeeian behavior, he’s been replaced with a better, less self-destructive performer in Michael Keaton.

Seth Rogen will co-star as the journalist behind the Wired piece, with Deadline saying his character “accepts what he thinks is a run-of-the-mill assignment to interview McAfee, but once he arrives in Belize, he finds himself pulled into McAfee’s escalating paranoia, unhinged reality, and murder.”

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Paranoia, the Wired piece makes great pains to show, was an instrumental part of McAfee’s life even before he retired to Belize. Part of the reason he came to dominate the antivirus space was due to his ability to inject that paranoia into his customer base, making computer viruses more of an apocalyptic concern than they actually were during tech’s early years. That paranoia turned dangerous, however, once he isolated himself in a 2.5-acre outpost in the Belizean jungle.

There, he became obsessed with a small, poor village called Carmelita, which he called “the most corrupt village on the planet.” Whether that’s true or whether that perception was fueled by his lover, a vengeful 16-year old prostitute named Amy Emshwiller, is muddled by McAfee’s aggressive disassociation from reality. His attempts to build a police force in Carmelita resulted in him commanding his own private army, and his efforts to combat drug dealers gave way to his own involvement in the drug trade. It’s all as baffling as it is darkly amusing, so it’s a relief to hear the film’s being developed as a comedy.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love., This Is Us) will direct a script from veteran screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who recently collaborated on Ryan Murphy’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, another story that found humor in some truly dark shit.

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