Nearly two years since announcing that they were teaming to produce not one, but two films about the animal poaching crisis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Tobey Maguire, and Warner Bros. are moving forward on the projects with two veteran screenwriters.  

For the first film, modeled after Oscar-nominee "Traffic and featuring multiple plot lines, the studio has brought on Will Staples. Best known for his work in the video game industry, Staples has quickly risen to become one of Hollywood's hottest screenplays writers. Credits curently include the upcoming "Mission: Impossible 5," an unnamed geopolitical thriller for Ben Affleck, and the historical crime drama "King of Heists" with Jeremy Renner. His experience with fast-paced, complicated scripts will likely be a perfect fit for a rumored plotline that will include from the ground war on poachers in Africa to how animal material ends up in the fashion houses of Paris. 

For the second film, Warner Bros. has brought on award-winning writer Sheldon Turner ("Up in the Air," "X-Men: First Class") to pen a script with a more narrow focus. This time, Hardy is rumored to be in the lead role, playing a former Special Forces soldier who trains rangers to battle poachers decimating endangered animals in Zimbabwe. "The soldier falls in love with the land, and the animals he is trying to save," reports Deadline. "Given his skill set, this spells bad news for the poachers.”

Like DiCaprio and Maguire, Hardy's interest in exposing this issue to a large audience has to do with his direct involvement in the issue. Last summer, the 36-year-old hosted a television documentary on the poaching crisis, traveling to South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania to see the fight first-hand. 

"Like most of us I have a love for Africa’s magnificent animals," he said. "As a result I find it hard to stomach the poaching crisis sweeping the continent and pushing these amazing animals to the edge of extinction. Without doubt the rhino and the elephant are facing extinction well within our lifetime and the war on poaching is being lost. I’m making these documentaries because it’s something practical I can do to ask some questions that need to be asked."

Both films will be produced by Tobey Maguire‘s Material Pictures, Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way and Tom Hardy‘s Executive Options.

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

DiCaprio's two animal poaching films move forward
Actor, in partnership with Tobey Maguire and Tom Hardy, brings on two veteran writers to craft the screenplays.