That’s funny. We were just chatting around The Playlist water color about who might take the lead role in Spike Lee‘s adaptation of “Oldboy” and while our immediate thought was that this might go out to some of the hot young thesps around town (i.e. Michael Fassbender) we were quickly reminded that the movie is called “Oldboy” for a reason — it deals with a man who is suddenly freed after being being held captive in a hotel room for fifteen years (and there are some other elements that we won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen the film that also skew to an older actor). Well, just as we were pulling together our list of possible candidates Twitch reports that none other than Josh Brolin is topping Mandate Pictures‘ wish list of actors to take on the lead role in the film.
It’s pretty easy to see why Brolin is sought after. He’s an Oscar nominee and he’s got the right presence and gravity to sell the dark story. Our own thoughts of potential leads were similar but a bit more A-list, considering if this has any chance of attracting a mainstream audience it will need a star to bring ’em in. We thought about Will Smith, who as you know was attached during the Steven Spielberg phase of the project, but he may be too expensive for a picture that seems to have scaled down budget wise in hiring Lee and frankly, he doesn’t seem eager these days to take on a part that will sully his clean image. Denzel Washington seems an obvious contender given his long history with Lee combined with his box office power. Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman are both guys who will be able to deliver the material with panache, though the former is not quite the big star he used to be and the latter will be tied up in “The Wolverine” as of this fall. Finally, we thought about Nicolas Cage which would be inspired, but he may be too eccentric for an already fairly outlandish tale.
But how out-there will it be? The original film by Park Chan-Wook is based on the manga by writers Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya and is a very twisted story of revenge about a man kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years seemingly for random reasons. When the imprisoned man is finally released, he discovers he must find his captor’s motives in five days or the abductor will kill a recent female friend that the innocent man has made. Without spoiling the motivations or the twist, the Korean film provides a different motivation for the shocking climax than the manga does in addition to slightly reshaping the story. Apparently, for Lee’s film, screenwriter Mark Protosevich is using both the Korean film and the Japanese book as the basis for his script. This was actually the plan way back in the Smith/Spielberg days but Twitch elaborates that 20% of the script is entirely new material and makes the comparison to “The Departed” — a film that used the same characters and broad situation in a revamped tale.
It’s another turn in a movie that continues to be one of the most intriguing projects in development. As we said before, we’re not exactly huge on the idea of remaking “Oldboy” but if they manage to pair Spike Lee and Josh Brolin (or someone equally as awesome) we’ll be there.