May 25, 2013

Tradecraft: Cruise Quits U.N.C.L.E.

I can't believe Deadline actually labels this story as a "shocker." Given the development history of this movie version of the Sixties TV classic, it pretty much seemed preordained. But the trade blog reports that Tom Cruise has dropped out of Guy Ritchie's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He's the latest in a parade of high-profile actors seeking to fill the shoes of Robert Vaughn to either leave the project (like George Clooney), pass on it (Matt Damon, Bradley Cooper), or be passed over by the studio despite the director's wishes (Channing Tatum, Joel Kinnaman). I can't help but picture the massive bodybuilder Ingo from "The Alexander the Greater Affair" picking up each of these would-be Solos and carrying them bodily out of the room as he does to Vaughn in that episode.

Just last week we were hearing that Cruise might shoot both the U.N.C.L.E. movie and a fifth Mission: Impossible movie back-to-back this year. But, crucially, despite extended negotiations, it had never been announced by Warner Bros. nor Cruise's camp that the actor had actually, officially signed onto the project. (Whereas Paramount issued a press release earlier this month touting his commitment to M:I-5.) And therein lies the rub, according to The Hollywood Reporter, who report that Cruise was able to drop out because "his deal never closed." Both trades lay the blame on the tight scheduling of the two Sixties TV-based tentpoles. While it would have been conceivable to shoot both movies back-to-back were he simply starring, Deadline reports that Cruise has been very active behind the scenes on the Mission: Impossible films (which he also produces), and he likely wanted time to prepare elaborate stunt sequences to rival the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa sequence in Ghost Protocol.

Where does this leave The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? The Hollywood Reporter asserts that Armie Hammer remains firmly attached to play Illya Kuryakin (the role originated by David McCallum on the TV show), and that Swedish actress Alicia Vikander remains in talks to play the female lead. Deadline claims that Warner will now "go hard" looking for another A-lister to take Cruise's place. Go hard? Gee, I thought that's what they'd been doing for the past several years! But I'm glad that for now the project appears to be holding together. I hope they secure a new lead quickly, lest it all fall apart again. I still want to see this movie happen! Cruise didn't seem like a good fit to me for Napoleon Solo, and it seemed unfair that he topline two different series derived from revered Sixties spy shows. But I did appreciate that his attachment guaranteed a start date. I'd be thrilled if director Guy Ritchie ends up roping in his Sherlock Holmes star Robert Downey Jr., as Downey has conquered most genres by this point but still doesn't have a spy movie under his belt. Or perhaps someone will finally realize that it's been Jon Hamm they should have gone to all along... Hopefully we'll hear something soon, because Deadline reports that the studio is still aiming to start shooting by the fall.


Bob said...

Jon Hamm, Ben or Casey Affleck. On the British side, Michael Fassbender or Clive Owen would also I think be good choices. After all, we have seen that the British can do American accents certainly better than the Americans do British accents.

teeritz said...

Jon Hamm would be great, but I wonder if he'd want to step back into the Sixties on the silver screen. Downey Jr would be great, but would he want to do another franchise? Still, he doesn't have a spy film under his belt.