Bradley Cooper Offered Napoleon Solo in THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

Is close to playing America's cold-war version of James Bond in Steven Soderbergh's international espionage Warner Bros blockbuster that shoots in March.

Is Bradley Cooper close to becoming Napoleon Solo in Warner Bros' blockbuster adaptation of the 60s spy show The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? Variety say a firm offer has been made to the rising Hangover star after extensive lobbying by his agency reps, and it seems like a formality now before he signs on to the period, London-set film Steven Soderbergh will start shooting from a Scott Z. Burns script in March. The duo have recently delivered The Informant and the currently in theatres virus thriller Contagion. The international espionage NBC show of the 60€s centered on an American/Russian secret agency called United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Or U.N.C.L.E. for short. Robert Vaughn (as American Napoloen Solo) and David McCallum (as Russian Illyva Kuryakin) starred and made a pretty formidable on-screen duo in in what was mostly a serious spy thriller but occasionally descended into the same kind of camp the latter Connery/Moore 007 films would. I mean when the arch nemesis organisation is known as THRUSH, you kind of know what the show is. Indeed WB looked at the property for a long time as one that could go into an Austin Powers-spoof direction but four years back pulled the trigger on butchering Get Smart instead. Thankfully U.N.C.L.E. was saved for this€ Cooper would not have been my first choice but a good one... Solo is something of a close relative to Bond (he was created by Bond author Ian Fleming) and he carries many of the same traits; charming, sociable, sophisticated, highly intelligent and an efficient spy but with a weakness for beautiful and exotic women. Notably though he is much less physical than 007 and is much more laid back. Everything you would imagine an American bond to be and the majority of these persona's Cooper can play with ease. The only thing we haven't seem him do is the more Bourne/serious aspects of the character but then we hadn't seen Matt Damon do that either until he blew us away with The Bourne Identity. At 36, Cooper is a good age to play this character for three movies this decade. His age is an important factor. Originally Soderbergh wanted his Ocean's Eleven franchise star George Clooney to play Solo which from the outside seemed like perfect casting except that maybe Clooney by now (he would turn 51 during filming) had become too old to play the character. After a brief attachment Clooney bailed on the project saying he didn't think his body could handle the rough and tumble Bourne aspects of the new film and as a trilogy is planned, it would only get worse later down the road. So unsurprisingly Soderbergh went to Bourne himself and another Ocean's Eleven player, not to mention star of his movies The Informant and Contagion in Matt Damon but he turned it down for the reason it would be too much like Bourne. We then heard Michael Fassbender was the director's next choice but WB weren't sure if he was a big enough star and it looks like an offer was made to Johnny Depp in the mean time, who obviously would be a big enough star, but in the end it's ended up with Cooper. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will be his first $100 million blockbuster sold on his name alone (The Hangover & The A-Team was an ensemble... though the latter and this both obviously share traction from an already famous brand name) but he did lead his starring vehicle Limitless to impressive numbers in March. Soderbergh€™s plan all along was to cast a huge Hollywood name in the Napolean Solo part and then go for a rising star as Russian Illyva Kuryakin, as WB would be satisfied that they had a box office draw secured in one of the co-leads. Cooper is a star though not a huge one, so we do wonder how it will effect the director's desire to cast Swedish star of Snabba Cash and AMC€™s The Killing€™s Joel Kinnaman in the co-lead role. WB would much rather have a Leonardo DiCaprio (who was my first choice incidentally) or a Ryan Gosling in that part, so we will monitor how that develops with shooting less than six months away which brings with it the added pressure of aligning people's schedules. So a great day for Cooper who has landed probably the biggest role of his career here as he builds himself a formidable CV. He is going about it the right way picking auteurist projects such as his next three movies; David O'Russell's The Silver Linings Playbook, Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines and Alex Proyas' Paradise Lost that he has shot this year. With Soderbergh directing and from a Scott Z. Burns script, the movie couldn't be shaping up better. Here's the latest comment on the movie from writer Scott Z. Burns;
"I thought it would be really fun to go back and look at spycraft in the Cold War and what you could and couldn't do," he said. "When you think about the world in the 1960's just in terms of cars and fashion and the aesthetic, to be able to go and shoot that world with today's cameras and today's technology, I think we could do some really cool stuff. Then also, the thing that was so cool about 'U.N.C.L.E.' that people don't realize--and this is why I like it more than 'Mission: Impossible'--the initial conceit of 'U.N.C.L.E.' was amazing. It was really about an organization that didn't have an affiliation with a country and Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin were guys who should've been sworn enemies. One was Russian and one was American and they worked together. In that way, it was a really incredibly progressive, hopeful kind of show."
Sounds great! This one is gonna be good...

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.