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Two news items today tangentially related to That Masked Man. Cue Rossini's "William Tell Overture."

News the first: It appears the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film is going to happen helmed by Guy Ritchie, with Tom Cruise as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer (who soon will appear as the Lone Ranger to Johnny Depp's Tonto in the new The Lone Ranger film) as Illya Kuryakin. This story was first reported by Ain't It Cool News, but I'm afraid in this case that, no, this news ain't cool.* (See corroboration here, here, and here.) (Thanks to st_crispins.) I should point out that this casting means - among many other and arguably more important things - that Solo is (now) 50 years old and 5'7" while Kuryakin is (now) 26 years old and 6'5", significant changes from the characters' previous near-equality on both counts.

It's not that I'm opposed to reboots - see my enthusiasm for J.J. Abrams' new take on Star Trek (which is my first and best fandom love) - but they are delicate things that must be done right. This news fails to inspire optimism.

Man from UNCLE

News the second: In far happier, more hopeful news, last Saturday the great Cherokee actor Wes Studi was inducted into the "Hall of Great Western Performers" at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Well deserved indeed. He's been one of my favorite actors ever since I was thirteen, when my parents took me to see the American Indian Theatre Company’s production of Black Elk Speaks (which also starred David Carradine and Will Sampson). I've followed his career with interest and appreciation over the years and even taught several of his films in my courses. Interestingly enough, he is only the second Native American to be inducted into the "Hall of Great Western Performers." The first was Jay Silverheels, who pioneered the role of Tonto in television opposite Clayton Moore's Lone Ranger.

Wes Studi

* Perhaps I should make some joke here about how Armie Hammer's apparently taken up the job of raping my childhood that George Lucas just vacated, but hey, it's too soon to make jokes, people.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:21 pm (UTC)
One does NOT watch movies with Tom Cruise.

LOL! I've made the error of watching some in the past, but I like to think I learn from my mistakes.

I got to meet both Jay Silverheels (as a child) and Clayton Moore (as an adult)

Oh, how amazing! I would've loved to meet either one. I think Jay Silverheels was one of my earliest TV crushes.

I agree with you about Michael Horse giving a good performance as Tonto. I'd totally forgotten about how he turned on Spillsbury. That puts a smile on my face.

You know you're a piece of work when your Tonto turns on you

HA! So true!!!
Apr. 25th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
Ugh! Just terrible news about the casting for the reboot. When I first heard rumors about this, my friends and I had a mass "AAAAACK!!!!" attack, complete with our own pledge to not go and instead stage our own marathon of MFU episodes if Mr. Cruise was indeed cast as NS. I guess we'll be having that marathon and playing what-if fantasy casting games...
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:22 pm (UTC)
I guess we'll be having that marathon and playing what-if fantasy casting games...

That sounds like a far better and more enjoyable use of time than going to see this film! ;) I second your "AAAAACK!" attack. And I applaud your oh-so-appropriate use of a brilliant icon, too.

Edited at 2013-04-28 11:23 pm (UTC)
Apr. 30th, 2013 01:26 am (UTC)
Definitely. Mr. Cruise = NO NO NO, particularly for this project. He's too old, too plastic, and too Tom Cruise for this role. :-p

So we're scheduling a marathon of MFU episodes, and speculating among ourselves about who we would have cast for a reboot (if we were so bold). So far, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Sean Maher have been floated as possible Napoleons in our fantasy casting pool, as well as a few obligatory votes for Mr. Cumberbatch. ;-) For Illya - he's a much harder problem, at least in our pool, not least because he's, well, Illya - someone suggested Bradley James if they're doing a 60's-era setting. In the modern day, though, Russia isn't the obvious "Cold War" enemy state it was then. So if they're doing modern-day, there have been suggestions of recasting 'Illya' as a North Korean (maybe Daniel Dae Kim) or Chinese...

Anyhow, care to play along? Who would you fantasy cast?
May. 24th, 2013 09:29 pm (UTC)
Did you see that Tom Cruise has pulled out of the film? I'm sooooo relieved...

I've been mulling over your question. I used to have the dream casting worked out (Kyle Maclachlan would've made a great Napoleon, I thought), but the ages no longer work. Now that you've mentioned Sean Maher, though, I can't "unsee" it. He would be brilliant! Napoleon's a tough one: an actor would need to manage sophisticated and charming without ever seeming smarmy, and dangerous without being over-muscled or thuggish. I think Maher is exceptionally talented and subtle in what he does. I'd LOVE to see him in the role!

You also made a great point about how updating the setting would mean finding an alternative to a Soviet character in the Cold War. How much do I love that Daniel Dae Kim idea? I'd never have come up with that, but he could pull off cool and mysterious and aloof so, so well, all the while giving ample proof that there was a lot going on under the surface. An inspired choice.

So that's done then. All we need to do is make you casting director! I'd see that film - multiple times!
May. 24th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank all the cinema gods! No, I hadn't heard, and I am *so* relieved.

OMG, yes, Kyle MacLachlan in his Dune/Twin Peaks years would have made a brilliant Napoleon! I'm starry-eyed just thinking about it. Who did you have mentally cast as Illya?

Now of course comes the question of whether they will successfully recast, or if this project will go back into the development loop. I know that the article states that they're looking hard, and that they're still planning on keeping Hammer as Illya. So who would you cast, given that Illya choice? I'm thinking that since their Illya is *such* a giant, going for a significantly physically different Napoleon - someone suave and slight, maybe - might be a good choice. But really, it comes down to acting chops first and foremost for me. And yes, I think Sean would be so very good in the role, no matter what era they set it in. But if they're looking for a *name* to anchor this potential-franchise on, which they clearly are, they're going to look for a bigger name than Mr. Maher, I'm thinking. Alas.

Well, time will tell - but until then, speculation is fun! :-)
Apr. 25th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
Awful casting. I can see the point of a reboot, but Cruise is just wrong for the part. And bloody hell - I am over him! He's on everything! He's in the reboot of Mission Impossible, he's Jack Reacher *and* this? What next? I don't know the bloke playing Illya, but yes, they should be colleagues,same age, similar power level. There'll be a power imbalance with the age difference. Or will they go for cutesy 'old man' jokes. Ugh.
ETA: Apparently hammer is 6'5". Tom's 5'7" with his hands in teh air. Ther's going to be more than one imbalance here!

Edited at 2013-04-25 10:06 pm (UTC)
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
I'm with you: I can see the point of a reboot, but wow, not this way.

And bloody hell - I am over him! He's on everything! He's in the reboot of Mission Impossible, he's Jack Reacher *and* this? What next?

Ack, I shudder to think...

Great points. I second everything you said.
Apr. 25th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
Anything with Tom Cruise = NO
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:26 pm (UTC)
LOL! It's a simple enough equation. Why doesn't everyone know it? ;)

Your icon cracks me up.
Apr. 26th, 2013 02:30 am (UTC)
Someone has to stop this evil casting cascade before they do a reboot of "I, Spy." I'm not sure who I would like to see in the Solo and Kuryakin roles, but Cruise 'n Hammer sure ain't it. Heaven knows what they came up with for Mr. Waverley.
Apr. 26th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
On the other hand, solid congratulations to Wes Studi. Long overdue.
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
Yay! Long overdue indeed.
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:46 pm (UTC)
Someone has to stop this evil casting cascade before they do a reboot of "I, Spy."

OMG. The mind boggles at how spectacularly The Powers That Be could mess that one up.

I'm absolutely dreading the announcement of who is cast as Waverly. ::shudders in anticipation::
Apr. 26th, 2013 03:42 am (UTC)
OMG re U.N.C.L.E. Tom Cruise... no, no, no. Should not be allowed within 100 feet of that project.

If I squint, I could maybe even see Hammer as Solo. But not as Kuryakin!

This seems sad. But I will just take a wait-and-see attitude.

Apr. 28th, 2013 11:34 pm (UTC)
OMG re U.N.C.L.E. Tom Cruise... no, no, no. Should not be allowed within 100 feet of that project.

I'm so glad you agree! I hate to be hasty, but there's just no way that's not wrong.

I don't know Hammer well enough to speak to his acting ability, but looking at him, I see what you mean about a potential for Solo - assuming Illya was roughly the same size and age, an equal. One of the selling points for Solo and Illya was that they weren't supermen, and you'd need someone large partnered with him to make 6'5" look less imposing. But it could be done. You put your finger on my main objection: Cruise. *whimpers*
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:44 pm (UTC)
I've seen AH in the Social Network (he played the twins), and also in Mirror, Mirror (I only saw that one because, if you recall, my mother was in it before her scene was left on the cutting room floor as it were). Here in LA we have the Hammer Museum, Hammer this, Hammer that - and when that film came out there were some articles and I learned that yes, he's from that family, and also had an unusual upbringing. (Interesting Wikipedia entry). He's engaging eye candy and can act a bit but I just don't see him as Kuryakin.

Along similar lines, I'm still having issues with the casting of Chekov in the first reboot ST film. The actor just does not read Chekov to me AT ALL. I thought all of the other casting for ST was fine.
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, I didn't realize he was part of the Hammer Hollywood Household (unintentional alliteration!). Now that you mention it, I saw The Social Network. I remember the twins; I need to go back and see clips to freshen my memory.

I have serious reservations about The Lone Ranger (I'll have to wait and see), but I don't have anything against Hammer personally. He doesn't sound/seem like Kuryakin material, though, as you say.

While the casting of Chekov wasn't an obstacle for me in enjoying the last film, I do admit it was the most jarring choice of the reboot for me. I understand they were going for the "boy wonder" thing - apparently closer to Roddenberry's original vision than the series ever got it - but he's quite a contrast to the others. I'll be interested to see how well he works/fits in this new one (and, for that matter, how much screen time he has - his accent/age/enthusiasm seemed to be mostly the comic relief in the first film).
Apr. 29th, 2013 12:40 am (UTC)
I don't think I'll be seeing The Lone Ranger. I cannot watch Johnny Depp in anything. If there was some way to watch only AH in it, I'd be in.

I am hoping for minimal Chekov in STID since every time he had a scene it was jarring for me.
Apr. 26th, 2013 12:52 pm (UTC)
My icon expresses how I feel about the MFU reboot. I refuse to see it. Cruse is utterly, totally wrong, and the film is going to lack the sophistication of the show (at least in my memory, it was sophisticated—I haven't seen any reruns as an adult, so I don't know if my memory is accurate or not).

I never really paid attention to Native American actors, so I am not familiar with Wes Studi. I'm happy he received an honor, however.
Apr. 28th, 2013 11:42 pm (UTC)
I love your icon and I heartily second its sentiment. :)

I think your memory is spot on in this circumstance. It was a sophisticated show with impressive and thoughtful ideas behind it. (My friend st_crispins wrote her doctoral dissertation on the program, and I know she agrees.) As you say, I can't imagine that translating into this project with Cruise in the lead.

Wes Studi has managed to bring terrific gravitas and integrity to Native roles (in such films as The Last of the Mohicans and Older than America) and also break out of ethnic stereotyping altogether (in such works as Avatar and Mystery Men), and he's also championed the cause of Native artists and given back a great deal to the Cherokee and Oklahoma communities. I'm really happy to see him recognized. He's also the only inductee this year who happens to be still alive, which is a special distinction all its own! ;)

Edited at 2013-04-29 12:05 am (UTC)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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