“I’m… adaptable.” – Nathan Drake, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (2011), Naughty Dog, Sony
UPDATE: Added additional content. Emily Rose kindly asked for me to make her my #1 pick. An awesome feat I wasn’t expecting despite directly tweeting her. Since being a go-getter is a good thing in this industry, also considering Scarlett Johansson was cast in Ghost In the Shell, and that I originally wrote “rather obvious choice, so much that I probably should have made it my first” I switched my original casting spots A-B, B-A. I also added details on males I didn’t pick, and brief addition that’s italicized.
Hollywood is always looking for old ideas. I guess they’re easier to make into new movies than new or original ones that come out of thin air. So with the release of the Uncharted film adaptation pending in place of the Spider-Man franchise on June 10th, 2016 I thought I’d help director Seth Gordon out and give him some direction.
Look no further than the Indiana Jones franchise. Take a page from the J.J. Abrams playbook and pay heavy homage to the famed director of that franchise Steven Spielberg. With a lot of people turned off by the most recent entry “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (myself excluded), the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise swashbuckling audiences to huge numbers (and again in 2017), and James Bond due out this year there’s certainly an audience out there for the action/adventure franchise fare in the off years. Considering the video game series started out as a rip off of Indiana Jones in the first place and the 3rd game taking heavy cues.
Casting Nathan Drake
I know a lot of people campaigned for Nathan Fillion as Drake including the actor himself, but considering his age (43) compared to Drake’s (early to mid 30’s) and that he’s a bit out of shape, unless hollywood wants to do a less straightforward adaptation lets move on.
I’m not picking Nolan North as much as I love the guy. Again I wouldn’t mind seeing him onscreen, he does understand the reality of the business.
Subject A: Bradley Cooper (was 39 when I started editing this article).
The bankable Hollywood choice is easily Bradley Cooper (39). He’s been in enough profitable films and is recognizable enough by audiences that they might be willing to take a chance on a movie just because he is in it. He has the smarmy charisma and cockiness that belongs to the character along with action experience, and can clearly do comedy that Seth will lean on judging from his experience with past films. This will also ensure a quicker shoot (if need be). His most relevant experience is The A-Team & The Hangover. As an extra nod he also has two academy award nominations (led by the director previously assigned to this film David O. Russell) which lend a bit of credibility should the marketing team or producers however want to leverage that, I can guarantee his agent, (who is very good) will.
This would drive the price of the film up. It’s only rumoured he’s being mugged for Indiana Jones, but Disney say they won’t get to that until after they clear Star Wars. His schedule looks pretty clear.
However, If you’re looking for a cheaper option with greater possible longevity there is a somewhat unproven prospect.
Subject B: Dan Stevens (32)
Most notable for his appearance on Downton Abbey before hitting the big screen with the guest, this is an up and comer who can surely play charismatic, he would be less demanding in scheduling and might be easier to lock down. As an added note he can also convincingly hold the psyche of someone who kills a shitload of people. His experience is lesser but he is still fresh-faced to audiences. His most relevant experience would be his central role in The Guest and his comedy work in Night at the Museum 3.
This is the terrible Hollywood producer in me talking about things that shouldn’t really factor in too much but I’ll mention it anyways. The man unlike Sly Cooper above is married with children which is a factor, and it might be harder to keep him on set for longer hours. Though I would imagine it could be a toss-up anyways with Cooper who might have his own demands. But It’s reasonable to expect he might want to tend to his family now and again, one might require the production team to be more tightly organized in their shooting schedules. I don’t consider his British ancestry to be a factor as he masks his accent well in his movies. As an aside Pinewood studios where Bond film’s would obviously make a great soundstage and allow him to be closer to his family. Again budget notwithstanding.
Here’s an important line though. There are enough white male action heroes out there. If I weren’t already a fan of the series I would take one look at this prospective movie franchise and go ‘oh great’ another generic white guy protagonist. Sure that’s what the character looks like, but looks don’t always really matter, as Drake’s look isn’t quite essential to his character, unless this movie wanted to tie into the exact same universe as the games. It would be cool to see some diversity in Hollywood for this role. Although it could carelessly turn into different for difference sake, and that’s a waste. I just for one can’t however think of someone off the top of my head, but I don’t believe the role to be incredibly demanding.
Casting Elena Fisher
Subject A: Emily Rose
It’s difficult to imagine an onscreen character without the voice in your head, and why not go with the original voice actor herself Emily Rose (33) when she’s young enough, slightly unknown to mainstream audiences, but has live action experience and is easy on the eyes.
The character is modeled after her, and from what I hear she is decent actress on her own show Haven. This is the rather most obvious choice, but I am foremost a movie fan and we are making an adaptation here so I am flexible here. But who else would understand the character better than her? In common with Dan Stevens mentioned above she is also married with a child. I don’t know how acting chemistry works so I’ll stop there. The only real risk to this casting choice is the lack of star power, but the Hollywood star system is pretty antiquated nowadays and practically non-existent. And for an action heavy film and a brand like this it shouldn’t really matter. At least as long as it is a good movie.
Subject B: Scarlett Johansson (30)
The most obvious movie star choice. Initially described by a fellow in-game female character as a “white-bread picket-fence type”, Elena Fisher turns out to be a whole lot tougher than she looks, much like our choice actress. I would bump here character up here as a co-lead in the film not only for the sake of lacking female role models but also because I believe it would increase the movie’s four quadrant appeal.
She has action credibility recently headlining her own vehicle in Lucy. She’s versatile, tough and can add character to even a thin script. Her experience suits the character. Relevant credits include her role as black widow, and the above mentioned Lucy. Comedy wise, she’s good enough. Her character is charming enough even if she plays it as a straight arrow, and considering the writers onboard this project its hard to tell what tone they’re gonna settle on. As an added bonus she has worked with Bradley Cooper on He’s Just Not That Into You (2009). Recently she was cast to star as lead in “Ghost In The Shell“, so her schedule might be a bit filled up at the moment.
At the Wahl aside: on film actors having kids
I don’t know anything firsthand about actually filming a movie with actors. I am unsure how much having a kid would affect regular working hours (probably not a lot on average). What came to mind though in this line of thinking was Mark Wahlberg, speaking in a behind the scenes featurette on Max Payne. He talks about having done 3 films back to back at this point and be away from his family. In deciding not to do his own stunts he briefly mentions about how he used to but thinks differently now that he has a kids.
I think Amy Hennig, writer and creator of the franchise and Evan Wells head of studio at developers Naughty Dog would make great creative consultants although it’s not like there’s a complicated mythos here. Additionally I think Sony would be wise to hire the studio’s animators who created the character models to run pre-visualization on some of the action scenes or at least map out the film. Then again Sony has shown that their relationship between divisions isn’t exactly close.
I can imagine this film adaptation to be one of the easier ones to do. There isn’t a complicated back story or mythos to explain to people and no CGI heavy characters or animations. This game’s blueprint makes it ripe for adaptation. I evokes everything from Errol Flynn and Indiana Jones, to James Bond and Mission: Impossible. A dash of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Fast and the Furious franchises thrown in there as well. Uncharted has always wanted to be a movie, only now can we finally give it what it wants.
“Uncharted” Release Date: Friday, June 10th, 2016
A Columbia Pictures Presentation