20th Century Fox has been wanting to adapt the adventures of Travis McGee into films for years now, and it looks like the studio is finally close to making that happen – though it won’t be with the original talent associated with the project.
First, a little background. Travis McGee is the protagonist of a series of novels by author John D. MacDonald, the first of which (“The Deep Blue Good-by”) was released in 1964 and introduces the character – a beach bum “salvage consultant” living in Florida who recovers lost items for people…for a fee. He lives on a houseboat and takes jobs only when he needs money, and he appeared in 21 novels from 1964 to 1984 (all of which included a color in the name).
Leonardo DiCaprio had long been attached to play McGee, but a new report from Deadline says that DiCaprio has walked from the project because he has too many projects on his plate right now. But the report also says that director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine) is now negotiating to direct The Deep Blue Good-by. I’ve never read these novels, but I like Mangold a lot as a filmmaker – he’s the kind of guy who can deliver when it comes to action, but when I’ve interviewed him, it always seems like he really loves to dive deep into character and story more than anything else. Telling McGee’s story (or stories, if he ends up being something of a series director for this franchise, ala David Yates with Harry Potter) seems like a good fit for him. (Though it does make me wonder when he’ll get around to that Wolverine sequel with Hugh Jackman.)
But with DiCaprio gone, the question is who will play Travis McGee in the films? With 21 novels to mine for stories, the studio is obviously hoping to make multiple movies with this character, but how many are we talking about here? Should they cast someone on the younger end of the spectrum in a Marvel-style deal for nine movies to ensure continuity, or go for a more established star who may only be willing to make three of these before taking other opportunities? Like I said, I haven’t read the novels, so I don’t have a good suggestion for who should take on this role, but if you’re familiar with the character, I’d love to hear who you think would be great on-screen McGee. Meet me in the comments and let me know!
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