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Director Dome Karukoski goes to Hollywood

Tom of Finland biopic director Dome Karukoski has secured his first big-budget Hollywood film, work on which he is set to begin in the summer. Big names such as Keanu Reeves and Isla Fisher have been associated with the coming movie.

Dome Karukoski
Thomas "Dome" Karukoski Image: Antti Haanpää / Yle

Dome Karukoski, the 40-year-old director behind the recent Tom of Finland film and a number of modern domestic classics, is confirmed to be setting out to direct his first Hollywood movie in the United States.

The news was broken by the US online magazine Deadline. Karukoski himself says he would have liked the announcement to remain a secret, but the producers decided to go public with the news after the magazine report.

Karukoski's first Hollywood film is based on a script by writer Matt Harris, entitled The Starling, which Karukoski describes as a "comedy about sorrow". Filming is to begin this summer.

"It's one of the best scripts I've read in years," the director says.

The film's headliners are pegged to be superstar Keanu Reeves and Australian comedy actress Isla Fisher. Karukoski says both actors appear invested in the project, but contract talks are still underway.

"Agents negotiate with agents in Hollywood, it's like buying a house," the director says. "If the house of cards falls down, you just build it up again."

That means that there is still a possibility that neither star will be seen in the film.

Free rein

Karukoski has been asked across the pond to Hollywood in the past. International interest in his oeuvre rose with his film Heart of a Lion (Leijonasydän, 2013) – a film about a neo-Nazi who reforms for the sake of a biracial child – but Karukoski has declined all offers, until now.

Karukoski has commented that he does not want to be a wheel in a big Hollywood machine, doing little more than yelling "action" and "cut". He has been allowed a say in issues such as casting.

"The package was built up in almost the opposite way than usual. My vision and that of the producers are in line," Karukoski says.

Producers Dylan Sellers and Michael Bederman have also worked with European directors in the past, a bonus for Karukoski, he himself says.

The budget of the film based on The Starling is about 10 million dollars, much of which will go into the actors' paychecks.

Karukoski is currently marketing his newest film, the biopic Tom of Finland. At least 40 Swedish cinemas are showing the movie, which is considered a high number for a Finnish movie.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat was the first to domestically report the news on Karukoski's attachment.

Edit: This story has been updated with more accurate information regarding casting negotiations.

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