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Ben Drew (aka Plan B) To Star Opposite Ray Winstone In ‘The Sweeney’

Ben Drew (aka Plan B) To Star Opposite Ray Winstone In 'The Sweeney'

‘Trainspotting’ Writer John Hodge To Pen Script

As a seminal British TV cop show, “The Sweeney,” which followed Flying Squad members Carter (Dennis Waterman) and Regan (John Thaw) as they bust heads across London, has long proved influential in the genre — it’s more or less the total inspiration for popular sci-fi series “Life on Mars” — and it’s no surprise that a big-screen reboot has been in the works for years. The film came within weeks of filming in 2008, with Ray Winstone as Regan and Michael Fassbender as Carter, but Fox Searchlight balked at a relatively high (for the U.K.) $16 million budget, and the plug was pulled.

But the project resurfaced last year — Fox’s claim on it having lapsed and the film found a new home at Vertigo Films (“Monsters“), with Winstone and director Nick Love (“The Football Factory“) still attached, and names like Daniel Craig, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor and Tom Hardy all being batted about for the role of Carter. Now, it seems a decision has been made on the casting, and, while the lucky actor is nowhere near as big a name, it’s not an uninteresting choice.

UK tabloid The Sun were the first to report (via Bleeding Cool) that Ben Drew, better known as the rapper/singer Plan B, has landed the key role, and Vertigo Films have since confirmed it to Empire, including releasing a series of images of Winstone and Drew in character. The 27-year-old Drew is something of a polymath — after his first record “Who Needs Actions When You Got Words” in 2006, he released his second album, the straight-up soul homage/concept album “The Defamation of Strickland Banks,” last year, where it swiftly became one of the biggest selling records of the year.

But he’s also started to make inroads as an actor — he had supporting roles in Noel Clarke‘s “Adulthood” and “,” and played the principle adversary to Michael Caine‘s “Harry Brown” in 2009 — and as a filmmaker, directing the short “Michelle” in 2008, he’s currently in post on his feature debut, the hip-hop musical “Ill Manors,” as we reported last year. This is easily his most high profile role to date, and it’s an interesting choice — and one perhaps more reflective of modern London than the likes of Fassbender and Craig would have been.

Empire also reveal that the script has been written by John Hodge, best known for his collaborations with Danny Boyle on “Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting,” “A Life Less Ordinary” and “The Beach,” which raises some hope that this’ll be something above your average cop movie. At the same time, director Nick Love is mostly responsible for a series of laddish, thuggish, repellent crime movies — unless he can reclaim the mojo from his promising debut “Goodbye Charlie Bright,” his presence will continue to make us very, very cautious. There’s no word when filming will get underway, but it seems that it’s likely to be very soon, and the film should hit theaters, in the UK at least, some time in 2012.

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