This morning, Deadline broke the news that Tom Cruise has left the latest in the TV-to-film adaptations, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., leaving Warner Bros to look for his replacement.
Cruise was meant to star alongside Armie Hammer (The Social Network) but as Paramount and Skydance want to start shooting toward the end of the year and Warner Bros wants to start shooting U.N.C.L.E. in the fall, Cruise had to exit the role of Napoleon Solo (made famous by Robert Vaughn in the 64-68 TV series) in order to concentrate on his starring role as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible 5 (where he also sits as producer).
Left: Robert Vaughn (Solo) and David McCallum as Kuryakin from the 1964-68 tv series
Warner Bros. has high hopes for this film and sees the Cruise exit as a “temporary setback” as evidenced when the potential franchise had Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven franchise) slated to direct and George Clooney as Solo. Soon after, Clooney decided exit, citing he wasn’t up to the physicality needed for the role because he needed surgery on his neck and back and once he was gone, so was Soderbergh. The film was handed over to director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) and his producing partner Lionel Wigram, who will produce U.N.C.L.E. with John Davis.
Hammer is still on board to play Solo’s secret agent partner-in-crime Illya Kuryakin so it’s anyone’s guess who’ll step in the Solo role. As a fan of the original series and a huge fan of Robert Vaughn, I vote Jon Hamm.
Fun fact: U.N.C.L.E. stood for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement
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