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Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” Casting Carousel Continues + Thoughts On Diversifying Cast

Spike Lee's "Oldboy" Casting Carousel Continues + Thoughts On Diversifying Cast

The casting carousel continues in the “who will play the villain” sweepstakes for Spike Lee’s take of Oldboy.

We’ve documented the project’s casting woes for Lee’s interpretation of the fanboy/girl fave, based on the original manga of the same name. 

In January, it was reported that production on the film had been pushed back to late summer/early fall (early spring was the previously-scheduled start date) thanks in part to star Josh Brolin’s press commitments for Men In Black 3, but likely also because the film’s starring cast hadn’t been sured-up yet.

Most recently, Clive Owen joined a short list of actors who were previously offered starring roles in the film but later rejected them for (in most cases) unspecified reasons; he was offered the main villain role, which was previously offered to Colin Firth and, before Firth, Christian Bale; obviously both also declined. I’m left wondering if these 3 actors who turned down the role did so because they are put off by the character (your garden variety self-righteous asshole, who does some utterly despicable shit, without giving away anything of the story for those who aren’t familiar). Granted I don’t know exactly what Spike’s version will include, so this is all just speculation based on Park Chan-wook’s 2003 film and the original manga.

There certainly could be other reasons for their rejections. So the hunt has been back on for the actor to play that obviously pivotal role, with today’s announcement that District 9 star Sharlto Copley has been offered the villain role, and is in early negotiations.

Will he be THE guy, or will the casting carousel continue? We’ll have to wait and see.

Also worth noting, Rooney Mara turned down the female lead role, which was then offered to Mia Wasikowska, and she turned it down; the role was later offered to Elizabeth Olsen, and she’s in. I can see why Mara would turn it down, having just done Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; not that the roles are exactly the same, but after having to be completely vulnerable and exposed in the dark, brooding, violent Tattoo, she may not have wanted to be just as vulnerable and exposed in the dark, brooding, violent Oldboy – at least not-so soon afterward.

Josh Brolin has been the man all along for the lead role, and he’s still attached; and as the actors search has continued for all these months, since the project was first announced, I’m wondering whether any non-white actors have been even considered for the any of the parts (the villain specifically); why not mix up the casting a bit? I think I previously cast my vote for Idris Elba as the villain; I can see it! Question is how black folks would receive him in such a revolting, though awesome, meaty role that could even attract critical acclaim.

No, it’s not glamorous; it’s one hell of a *messy*, twisted, tragic story (going based on the manga and the first film), which partly explains its cult-dom. And I would welcome a black actor (despite the expected controversy that would come afterward) in the part; emphasis on the word “Actor;” Someone who could simultenoeusly pull off arrogance/self-importance (the lengths he goes to accomplish what he does and how much he relishes torment and anguish in his victims), and self-loathing (there’s a lingering undercurrent of sadness and self-blame that you sense within him). 

The final showdown between villain and hero is an epic one, and will be a showcase of each actor’s ability. 

But if all works out well, it looks like Sharlto Copley is the guy.

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