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Gibson, DiCaprio plan Viking film

LOS ANGELES -- Last fall, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mel Gibson shook hands for the first time and then sat down for an intense five-hour meeting to discuss a topic of mutual passion: making an epic Viking film.

LOS ANGELES -- Last fall, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mel Gibson shook hands for the first time and then sat down for an intense five-hour meeting to discuss a topic of mutual passion: making an epic Viking film.

No Hollywood project is a slam dunk, especially a high-priced period piece, but if the ramping plan to create a maritime epic does work out, the meeting at the Santa Monica offices of Gibson's company, Icon Productions, will be remembered as the day the Vikings set sail again in cinema.

There were two other men in the room that day, both of them Oscar winners: producer Graham King, who set up the meeting, and screenwriter Bill Monahan, who is now at work on the script for the untitled project that will be directed by Gibson and star DiCaprio.

"It was the first movie I ever thought about making," Gibson said. "I saw it in my mind back when I was teenager. Seriously, it's the first movie I wanted to make. And I think it will be the last film I direct. It's the thing I have been going toward, in a way, since I was young, and I think when it's done I may be finished."

Work is now under way on the script by Monahan, who penned the screenplays for "The Departed," which starred DiCaprio, and "Edge of Darkness," which starred Gibson, as well the 2005 Ridley Scott film "Kingdom of Heaven," which was a battlefield epic set in the time of the Crusades.

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"There's never been a good Viking film, not that I've seen," Gibson said. "I think I have found the right way to get into it, though, but I don't want to say too much. The real problem is making those guys sympathetic. They were monsters."

King was the one who brought Gibson and DiCaprio together.

"The interest was in both of them for a long time and I can see why -- the Vikings are so mysterious, and for an actor to get his teeth into something like that could really lead to some interesting things," King said. "And it's something the audience hasn't seen in a long time."

The most famous film on the seafaring warriors was probably "The Vikings" in 1958 with Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Borgnine. The film was jeered by critics.

King, a U.K. native, greeted the film's mention with a smirk. "I just remember all these guys with all their New York accents."

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Related Topics: MOVIES
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