A Tale of Two Chefs: Two Upcoming Movies From Bradley Cooper and Jon Favreau Have the Same Title

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

They say too many chefs spoil the soup … and make things confusing in the movie business.

Bradley Cooper, riding high on "Silver Linings Playbook" and the upcoming "Hangover Part III," has just signed on to star in a new drama from director John Wells called "Chef." If that title sounds familiar, it should: it was also announced this week that Robert Downey Jr. has committed to appear in a comedy called "Chef," which is being directed by Jon Favreau, who will also star.

Making the story more complicated, Sony Pictures, who were attached to the Wells film before the project moved over to The Weinstein Company, has issued a cease and desist letter to Favreau and his production company Fairview Entertainment. Sony claims they registered the title "Chef" with the Motion Picture Association of America and passed along the rights to TWC, meaning Favreau's project is in violation.

There are also certain thematic similarities in the two movies as well. In Wells's "Chef," Cooper will play Adam Jones, a chef from America who has become a culinary sensation in France. However, success leads to temptation, and Jones's career flames out thanks to substance abuse and bad behavior. After getting clean and sober, Jones sets out to prove his success wasn't a fluke, struggling to work his way back to cooking in three-star restaurants. While David Fincher was committed to the project at one point, Wells (whose latest film "August: Osage County" has been earning lots of enthusiastic press) is now confirmed to direct, and Cooper was impressed enough with his work to commit to playing the lead. Steven Knight ("Eastern Promises") wrote the screenplay, and Michelle Williams, Marion Cotillard, and Omar Sy are in talks to co-star.

Meanwhile, Favreau's "Chef" tells the tale of a successful chef whose ego gets the better of him. The chef loses his job and becomes estranged from his family. Determined to start his life over, the chef sets out to mend fences with his family while starting a new business, selling his culinary delights from a food truck. The picture finds Favreau retuning to his roots in indie comedy after re-writing the rules of the blockbuster comic book picture with "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2." While earlier reports had it Robert Downey Jr. would be playing the lead in this "Chef," it turns out Favreau has cast himself as the man with the food truck, and Downey will appear in a supporting role. Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, and Bobby Cannavale are also attached to the picture, and Scarlett Johansson is rumored to be joining the cast.

It seems inevitable that one of the two films will get a new name by the time they go into release, though since neither has begun filming, it's not certain just when that might be. Perhaps pitting Cooper and Favreau against each other in a cook-off would be the way to settle this while gaining some publicity for both movies. Food Network, get someone on this pronto!