Photos: Louis Zamperini
Timeline: The life of Louis Zamperini
Related: Louis Zamperini's epic life may finally get its Hollywood movie
So who should play Louie?
Now that the Louis Zamperini film project has been given new life, speculation already is swirling around who should get the lead.
And for an up-and-coming young actor, it could be the role of a lifetime.
Tony Curtis initially wanted to play Zamperini when talk of a film based on his life began in the 1950s after his autobiography, "Devil at My Heels," came out.
When CBS aired a short documentary on Zamperini during coverage of the 1998 Olympics, Nicolas Cage expressed an interest in the leading role.
Now, with the 2010 release of Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" and film plans moving ahead, a new search will be back on for a lead actor to play Zamperini on the big screen.
Hillenbrand said Ryan Gosling, 32, would be a "wonderful" pick but added that it will be a decision that is in the hands of the filmmakers.
"I saw him on the Academy Awards," Zamperini said of Gosling. "I thought, `He's ideal.
Gosling's previously acclaimed work has included roles in "Drive," "Half Nelson" and "Blue Valentine."
Other high-profile leading men who have been mentioned include James Franco, 34 ("Spider-Man," "Milk" and "127 Hours"); and Jake Gyllenhaal, 32 ("October Sky," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Brothers").
While casting is premature until a screenplay is in place, the qualities being sought in a lead actor have already been well-defined, thanks in large part to Hillenbrand's moving and detailed literary take on Zamperini.
"The family would like someone who resembles him: a distance runner, long lanky body, dark hair - and piercing blue eyes would help, too," said Zamperini's son, Luke.
Longtime Zamperini friend John Naber said selecting someone who can run "convincingly" on camera is important as well.
In the end, "Unbroken" producer Matthew Baer isn't worried about finding a good fit when casting the leading role.
What kind of actor will be sought?
"Read `Unbroken,"' Baer said. "It has to be somebody who is charming, physical and someone capable of a great range of emotion."
The role, he said, "requires such depth. Whoever is cast will be working (under) a director (Angelina Jolie) who is an incredible actor" in her own right, he said.
"She will pull together an amazing group."
Because the story spans Zamperini's life from childhood to young adulthood, Baer said, there would likely be two actors selected to portray him - one as a 12-year-old boy growing up in Torrance and the other, for the bulk of the film, portraying Zamperini in his late teens through his 20s.
"I've never remotely feared that we're not going to get an amazing actor" for the lead, Baer said.
"It's a `Raging Bull' (role), it's a `Castaway' (role), it's a major performance. It will be one of the great roles for a young actor."