When Brad Pitt left Universal’s adaptation of the critically acclaimed 2003 British T.V. series last week, leaving production on STATE OF PLAY in turmoil in this strike climate… the studio soon announced that they might sue the actor for balking on his pay-or-play commitment.
Today’s Variety has further details on that, and also interestingly news of a big name replacement Universal have been trying to get to commit to the project all weekend.
His name… none other than $20 million+ guy Russell Crowe.
Which is an interesting choice. Once again if Crowe does take part, then to me it would feel that the Edward Norton (as the Congressman who has had an affair) and Russell Crowe (as the journalist and friend who wants to get to the truth) parts should be switched around to suit the other actor.
Another interesting dichotomy is that Norton and Crowe have never worked together before, two extremely different but superbly talented actors who I had never thought of as an acting duo, which could make for some fascinating viewing. Much of the film would work on what chemistry those two guys could formulate.
Crowe is currently working with Ridley Scott once again on BODY OF LIES and he was expected to work with the legendary director for the fifth time in the revisionist epic NOTTINGHAM but with that film likely to start in March/April… there would seem to be a small window of opportunity for Crowe to star in this movie between December/February.
Of course a few other A-list actors are without a pre-strike movie at the moment as we have reported recently, both Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp could soon be sought after if Crowe decides not to play.
Universal still seem likely to sue Brad Pitt. They are pissed that the actor left the project on Wednesday instead of ‘honoring his commitment’ but Pitt’s reps say he never agreed to star in the eventual shooting script for the film. After 16 months of being committed to the project and being a big fan of Matthew Carnahan’s original script, during the casting and early development stages, Universal went to three different writers for re-writes leaving Pitt extremely unhappy with the end result.
In this climate where further re-writes just aren’t possible, Pitt felt like there was nothing he could do but leave.
So now if Crowe takes on the project, it will have to be the same script that Pitt turned down. It will not be available for re-writes to suit the actor’s range or style.
It’s clear Universal still have high hopes for this feature after going straight for Crowe. To me, he doesn’t feel right for this part at all but Crowe is the best actor of his generation, so I have little doubt that he would win me over if he choose to do this movie.
Oscar winning Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman are still on board alongside Edward Norton for THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND director Kevin Macdonald. We should have out something concrete soon because this will have to go into filming in the upcoming weeks.