Take an electrical engineer and an author, put them together, and what do you have? Tesla & Twain, the action-adventure pitch from The Emoji Movie writer, Eric Siegel. The project has just been picked up by CBS Films, with The Jungle Book’s Brigham Taylor set to produce.
The movie is a fictional exploration of the friendship between Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain. Tesla was known for his contribution to the field of electricity, especially the alternate current (AC) induction motor. Twain was fascinated with electricity and invested in the development of an electric motor in the 1880’s. He became interested in Tesla when he learned of a motor the inventor had developed for Westinghouse. Twain recognized that the AC motor was more superior than the direct current (DC) motor created by Twain’s partner, James W. Paige. Tesla and Twain met in New York in the 1890’s and became fast friends, spending a lot of time together both in and out of Tesla’s lab.
Given Siegel’s current project, one might wonder if he’ll play up some of the more comedic tales associated with the two historic figures. According to some, Tesla presented a challenge to Twain; he had created a high-frequency oscillator, or earthquake machine, that would shake the building whenever it was on. Tesla, knowing that Twain had issues with his bowels, challenged him to stand on the machines platform while it was active. Depending on the storyteller, Twain remained on the oscillating disc for 60 to 90 seconds before dashing off to empty his bowels.
Tesla has been depicted before by the late David Bowie in 2006’s The Prestige and by Jonathan Young in the Syfy series Sanctuary. Currently Nicholas Hoult is set to play Tesla in The Current War, due out this year, with Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Doctor Strange) as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Boardwalk Empire) as George Westinghouse.