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Adam McKay Courting Russell Crowe & Simon Pegg For Comic-Book Adaptation ‘The Boys’

Adam McKay Courting Russell Crowe & Simon Pegg For Comic-Book Adaptation 'The Boys'

Script’s Almost Done, But Director Admits That It’s A Hard Film To Get Made

The career of Adam McKay is at an interesting juncture now — having delivered four successful comedies starring BFF Will Ferrell (“Anchorman,” “Step Brothers,” “The Other Guys” and “Talladega Nights“: and yes, those are ranked in order of brilliance), the former “Saturday Night Live” writer is starting to look at stepping outside of his comfort zone, with a couple of projects percolating that look to take him into slightly less ludicrous waters and away from Ferrell. One is a biopic of legendary political consultant Lee Atwater, from “In The Loop” and “Four Lions” writer Jesse Armstrong, although that seems further off at the moment.

And the other, which McKay signed on to last summer, is an adaptation of Garth Ennis‘ ultra-violent comic-book “The Boys,” which follows a government team who keep tabs on the actions of superheroes. McKay’s been diligently working away on the script ever since, and MTV caught up with him on the red carpet at the Comedy Awards this weekend, where he not only gave an update on the project’s status, but also hinted at his casting thoughts — including a not-entirely-expected choice for the film’s lead.

McKay admits that “I’m writing completely on my own… so it’s taking twice as long as it should.” But it shouldn’t be too much longer — he says, “I am actually in the home stretch. I have about two weeks left on this draft and we’re going to try and get it made. It’s looking pretty cool. I’m excited about it.” With the script nearing completion, McKay confirms that he’s starting to think about casting, and re-iterates that Simon Pegg, on whom Ennis based the character of Wee Hughie Green, a civilian drafted into the group after his girlfriend is killed by a superhero, is his first choice, saying that, “Everyone knows Simon Pegg can take Hughie if he wants. I don’t know what his schedule is like, though.”

It’s worth noting that Pegg seems ambivalent about it, however, aside from any scheduling conflicts (and it’s likely that “Star Trek 2” will keep him busy for most of the second half of this year). When we talked to the actor at SXSW, he suggested that he was no longer the best fit for the role, saying that “I don’t know if I’m too old for Wee Hughie, you know, I’m a 41 year old man, Wee Hughie is like a young guy. I think Darick and Garth [Ennis] imagined Wee Hughie as [my character] Tim from “Spaced,” not Simon Pegg, 41 years old. But we’ll see.” However, there’s nothing intrinsically young about the character, so should Pegg really want to take it on, there’s nothing stopping him.

More unexpected is that McKay’s already sat down with an A-lister about the leader of The Boys, the brutal ex-Royal Marine Billy Butcher. The director relates “I really like the idea of Russell Crowe for the Butcher. We met and had kind of an interesting meeting.” Crowe’s a very strong fit for the part, and, while he’s never expressed an interest in superhero movies in the past, McKay seems to suggest that the interest is mutual — particularly if he’s willing to name the actor at this stage. Presumably, Crowe’s waiting for the full draft before formal talks begin, but should McKay deliver, Crowe’s schedule is clear, and we’re interested by the idea of the often overly-sincere star teaming with the comedy veteran.

However, the film doesn’t have a studio home (Neal Moritz is producing, which is a concern), and McKay concedes that the film may not be the easiest to get made. “You really have to wait until the draft is done to get serious about it, plus it’s like a $100 million, rated-R, anti-superhero movie, so we have to see who bites on it.” Crowe’s attachment could certainly help matters, we imagine. We’ll see how this one develops in the coming week, but we’re certainly interested to see what happens.

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