Idris Elba as Dr. Ben Payne in "The Mountain Between Us"
Idris Elba as Dr. Ben Payne in “The Mountain Between Us”

Speaking of whether Idris Elba is a Hollywood leading man yet…

The actor is currently filming the romantic drama “The Mountain Between Us” for Twentieth Century Fox and producer Chernin Entertainment – a project that’s long been in development that was original set to star Charlie Hunnam and Rosamund Pike. Both were eventually replaced by Elba and Kate Winslet.

An adaptation of the best-selling novel by Charles Martin, the story centers on a man and woman, survivors of a plane crash in the wilderness, who fall in love.

Here’s a summary of the book from the author’s website: “On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home to Jacksonville, FL for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is canceled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, Ben offers the seat to Ashley, knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently. And then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness–one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. Ben, who has broken ribs and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot’s dog, are faced with an incredibly harrowing battle to survive. As the days on the freezing mountains become weeks, their survival becomes increasingly perilous. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever?”

Of course Elba plays Dr. Ben Payne and Winslet is Ashley Knox.

Dermot Mulroney is also in the film which is being directed by Hany Abu-Assad from a script that was initially adapted by Mills Goodloe and Scott Frank. Chris Weitz was tapped for a rewrite.

The film, which reads like it could be a 2-character acting clinic, certainly has an Oscar-friendly storyline, which would obviously put Elba in a potentially prime position, especially after what many saw as an Oscar snub for his performance in “Beasts of No Nation” a year ago. And maybe the fact that Fox has set an October 20th, 2017 release for the film – in the thick of awards season – is a sign of their expectations for it. And certainly Winslet is no thespian slouch, and no stranger to Oscar with 7 Academy Award nominations and 1 win to her credit.

And while Palestinian director Abu-Assad may not be a mainstream filmmaker, especially on this side of the Atlantic, his work, which dates back to the 1990s, has won him numerous international awards, include festival honors at the premieres like Cannes and Berlin.

So this is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Chernin Entertainment is producing, with Fox 2000’s Marisa Paiva overseeing it.

The above photo of Elba in costume on the film’s set, comes courtesy of IMDB.