Starlog isn’t exactly known for breaking big scoops these days, but they’re reporting that “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam is on the top of Silver Pictures’ and StudioCanal’s casting wishlist to play the new Snake Plissken in the long-gestating remake of Escape From New York. Other names on the list supposedly include Jon Bernthal from “The Walking Dead” and Dan Stevens, who stars in The Guest.
Last summer, Kurt Russell himself appeared at a public Q&A in Los Angeles and spoke a bit about the original Escape From New York. If you’re a fan of the movie, I’d highly recommend checking out my report from the Q&A, which features some great stories directly from Russell. That night, he spoke a bit about the remake (it’s been brewing for years):
I know that they’re going to do a remake of Escape From New York. I think there are plenty of guys out there who could do an interesting version of Snake. I’ve always said this, though, whenever they ask me about that – they ask me who would Snake be, and they tell me who they’ve thought of – and it’s always fascinating to me that the only people I ever hear about are guys from England or Scotland. Foreigners. They’re not American. And when you see Escape From New York, there’s one thing I can tell you about Snake Plissken: he’s an American. There’s a reason that when he gets into the ring [in one of the film’s fight sequences], he gets into the ring with a baseball bat with nails in it. That’s American. It’s not a hockey stick, it’s not a curling stick. It is a baseball bat. I always felt that was an important thing. He’s a war hero. He’s an American war hero.
Bernthal is the only one of those three candidates who is an American – Hunnam and Stevens are both English – so we know who Russell would choose if he had his say in the matter (well, if he had a say, he’d probably cancel the remake before it got started in the first place). I’m actually not a big fan of any of these guys (though I haven’t seen The Guest yet, so that might change with Stevens), but for those who absolutely hate the idea of Hunnam as Snake, fear not: he may be too busy playing King Arthur and starring in Pacific Rim 2 to take this role anyway.
The report from Starlog also claims that the Escape From New York remake is inspired by the Batman: Arkham video games (weird), and that it will have more of a team focus, with the following breakdown of characters:
Plissken’s team consists of Mina, a warzone journalist framed for murder and living in the shadows of New York as a scavenger; Cabbie, a schizophrenic travel guide who serves as comic relief; Gareth, the last surviving member of the President’s security detail who harbors a dangerous secret; and The Brain, Plissken’s former partner-in-crime who left him to die after a botched robbery.
That part about the former partner who left him to die seems like a bad idea, because it fills in part of the backstory that the first film wisely left ambiguous. In that interview with Russell, he said that there was an alternate opening to the first movie that was filmed but never used in which Snake and his partner rob a credit card store. The partner is wounded during their escape, and Snake is faced with the choice of escaping or going back to save his friend. He saves his buddy and is caught in the process, which leads him to the prison on Manhattan that we see in the film.
And then John cut that part out of the movie. And for the first time ever, really – I thought it was really fascinating – the guy walks on the screen, walks off a bus, and he’s just like, ‘F*ck you.’ Doesn’t care about anybody or anything. He’s a bad boy. It’s never explained where it came from.
That attitude is essential to this character, and filling in the backstory (and changing it, making it where the partner left Snake to get captured) seems like a bad decision. The original is great, and I’m not completely opposed to the idea of a remake, but changing the core of the character doesn’t seem like the best way to go about it to me. We’ll see how this whole thing plays out because, like I said, this project has been in the works for a long time; it could easily stay buried in development hell for a few more years.
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