Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds will play Margaret and Walter Keane in an indie biopic about the couple whose art — especially paintings of doe-eyed children — became a pop phenomenon in the 1950s and 1960s.
While their art was reproduced and marketed around the country, their home life was unhappy: Margaret Keane was the artist, but her husband took credit. In fact, it carried Walter Keane's name, rather than the shy Margaret's.
When the two divorced, both claimed rights to the paintings. Ultimately — in federal court — Margaret Keane painted a picture to prove that she was, in fact the artist. When the judge asked Walter Keane to paint, he declined, saying his sore shoulder prevented him from painting.
The judge found for Margaret Keane.
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski wrote and will direct the film. Tim Burton is producing through his Tim Burton Productions. Lynette Howell and Jamie Patricof are producing through their Electric City Entertainment.
"We are ecstatic to have this dream cast for our dream project," the directors said in a written statement. "Walter is a larger-than-life antihero — charming, funny, dangerous, and a little crazy. Ryan will knock it out of the park. As for Reese, she will be perfect as Margaret — soulful, decent, transforming from vulnerability to learning to fight for herself."
Alexander and Karaszewski know their biopics: They wrote "Ed Wood," "The People vs. Larry Flint" and Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon."
With Burton, they're working on a new version of "The Addams Family."
"Big Eyes" has been on Alexander and Karaszewski's to-do list since at least 2009.