Woody Harrelson has been a frontrunner to play Ken Kesey in Gus Van Sant's extremely-overdue adaptation of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for over a decade now, but it looks like Harrelson has decided to tackle another LSD pioneer in the meantime: the actor just signed on to play Timothy Leary in a new miniseries.
On Monday, Deadline announced that Harrelson will star in an adaptation of Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis's book, The Most Dangerous Man in America, about Leary's years as a fugitive from the FBI in the early 1970s. The project is penned by Luke Davies, the guy behind Hulu's recent Catch-22 adaptation, who will also executive produce the project alongside Harrelson.
The project seems pretty natural, since Timothy Leary's entire life has been primed for a biopic treatment, from his early experiments with psychedelics as a Harvard psychology professor in the early 1960s and beyond. His famous Harvard Psilocybin Project eventually got him kicked out of Harvard, so he moved the operation down to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, until the Mexican government kicked him out, so he hoofed it to a big mansion in upstate New York until the FBI started raiding the place and, well, you get the idea.
The man was a counterculture icon who managed to consistently piss off the establishment for just about the entire second half of the 20th century, but none of his exploits were quite as wild as his infamous prison break and globe-spanning run as a fugitive, so it makes sense that the series will focus in on that particularly bonkers chapter of his life. In 1970, after Leary was sentenced to ten years in prison on marijuana charges, Leary staged a prison break with help from the Weather Underground and spent almost two and a half years on the drug-fueled lam, hiding out with the Black Panthers in Algeria and eventually fleeing from Nixon and the FBI around Europe and eventually into the Middle East, where he was finally caught in Afghanistan in 1972.
As of now, there's no network attached to The Most Dangerous Man in America yet, but with this kind of source material, someone is bound to pick it up soon. Harrelson and Davies would have to work pretty hard to mess this one up. Hopefully this will inspire Gus Van Sant to finally get The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test off the ground.