The wheels continue to turn on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” over at Warner Bros. with Bradley Cooper offered the role of American spy Napolean Solo and Joel Edgerton in talks for Ilya Kuryakin, it seems things were moving swimmingly along for the project as it had two leads that made both the director and the studio happy but, alas, one has fallen.
The Wrap reveals that Cooper will not play the role in film, set to be directed by Steven Soderbergh. The actor has a very busy plate as he’s currently shooting “The Silver Linings Playbook” and heads to Australia for “Paradise Lost” later this year. No reason has been given for his exit but the actor is just one in a laundry list of folks that have been considered.
We told you in September that Michael Fassbender and Joel Kinnaman were Soderbergh’s original two choices and they were. The director met with Kinnaman during Comic-Con and Fassbender worked with the director on “Haywire” and both wanted to repeat the experience. The monkey wrench came, however, when “The Lone Ranger” fell into budget problems at Disney. In the interim, Johnny Depp read the Scott Z. Burns-penned script and wanted to take the Ilya role. WB were over the moon and let it be known that Soderbergh could essentially cast anyone in the lead with a huge star like Depp in a co-staring role. However, most parties, aside from the punch-drunk WB, realized ‘Ranger’ would essentially sort itself out and Depp would be lost, which is exactly what happened. Nevertheless those several weeks when producer Jerry Bruckheimer fought to keep ‘Ranger’ alive ate up a lot of casting time. During that period actors who were who once available, became unavailable, and WB then took Kinnaman – someone who wasn’t on their radar before Soderbergh presented him to them – and placed him as the lead in David Dobkin’s “Arthur & Lancelot. Once Kinnaman exited the picture, WB wanted a lead star and they fancied Matt Damon, who is busy prepping his directorial debut that shoots around the same time in early 2012. WB pushed to shoot the film the following year, in early 2013 with Damon in the lead, except Soderbergh – definitely wants to make the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra” his last film for at least the foreseeable future — held his ground. With Damon and Depp out of the picture, Fassbender busy and Kinnaman as Lancelot, Soderbergh and WB settled down to look at names, which they eventually agreed on to be Cooper and Edgerton.
No word yet on who will take up the open position now that Cooper has left, but complicating the dealmaking is the fact that Warner Bros. wants to make a franchise, which would mean locking in both potential lead actors in complex three picture deals.
More to come, but for now, Cooper won’t be your ‘U.N.C.L.E.’