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Exclusive: Dunces Finds Its Ignatius in Galifianakis

“When Fortuna spins you downward, go out to a movie and get more out of life.”

— Ignatius J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole’s posthumously Pulitzer Prize–winning novel may finally be taking its protagonist’s advice: Vulture hears exclusively that Flight of the Conchords co-creator and The Muppets director James Bobin is in negotiations to at long last bring the picaresque paean to New Orleans to the big screen via producer Scott Rudin and Paramount Pictures. We hear the script will be fashioned by Cedar Rapids screenwriter Phil Johnston (who also co-wrote Alexander Payne’s forthcoming Nebraska) and that, perhaps best of all, the seemingly perfectly matched Zach Galifianakis is attached to the project to star as Reilly.

Now, of course, let's don’t get too excited, for this year actually marks the 30th anniversary of Harold Ramis’s 1982 plan to adapt the book, an effort which has been, well, kind of cursed: Just a few days before Ramis was scheduled to have his intended Reilly, John Belushi, meet with executives at Universal Pictures, the comic fatally overdosed at the Chateau Marmont.

In the intervening decades, more potential Reillys would predecease the project, including John Candy (1994) and Chris Farley (1997). Even just five years ago, Will Ferrell, Galifianakis’s current co-star in The Candidate, was set to make the film with a script co-written by Steven Soderbergh, but, alas, we know how that turned out: As Ignatius once said best himself, “The gods of chaos, lunacy, and bad taste gained ascendancy.”