Since its publication in 1990, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a linked collection of semi-autobiographical short stories about the Vietnam War, has become a modern classic—in fact, its title story is the most frequently anthologized piece of short fiction in the last three decades, and it’s still frequently taught in classrooms, a fact which surprised O’Brien. “I had imagined an audience of literate people on subways and going to work and in their homes reading the book,” he said in a 2010 interview. “But I certainly hadn’t imagined 14-year-old kids and 18-year-olds and those even in their early-20s reading the book and bringing such fervor to it, which comes from their own lives, really. The book is applied to a bad childhood or a broken home, and these are the things they’re carrying. And in a way, it’s extremely flattering, and other times, it can be depressing.”
Which is only to say that it’s a little surprising that the National Book Critics Circle Award winner hasn’t been made into a film before now (though it has been a play, and one of the stories was made into a Kiefer Sutherland movie in the 90s). Still, looks like we’re going to make up for lost time: as Deadline reports, the newly-announced feature adaptation, directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Scott B. Smith (A Simple Plan), will feature an absolutely star-studded cast, including Tom Hardy (whose production company is also behind the film), Bill Skarsgård (the edgy Skarsgård), Pete Davidson, Ashton Sanders, Tye Sheridan, Stephan James, Moises Arias, Martin Sensmeier, and Angus Cloud.
“Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is his seminal masterwork—a raw, unflinching, and emotionally truthful literary experience filtered through a kaleidoscope of memory that’s impossible not to be profoundly moved by,” said Tom Hardy’s production outfit in na statement. “We are all deeply passionate about and honored to have the good fortune of working alongside Tim in bringing his vital classic to screen—and together with our incredible cast, Rupert, Scott, and David—we look forward to creating what we feel will be an important film.”
For his part, Rupert Sanders said that “The Things They Carried is a beautifully crafted work and one of the most viscerally evocative books I have ever read. For me, it transcends its subject of young men at war and explores the landscape of deep human emotions that reside within all of us. We live in such turbulent times, and the themes of love, fear, and mortality that Tim explored thirty years ago still resonate today, maybe even more powerfully. I am so excited about the cast we have put together—we have not seen this many young stars from different backgrounds sharing the screen since the days of Platoon or The Outsiders.”