Eli Roth‘s been off the directing scene much longer than you think. Acting jobs of varying scope — Inglourious Basterds and Piranha 3DD being the most notable of the two — producing credits, and random appearances (Rock of Ages, apparently?) might make one forget, but it’s been a whopping five years since Hostel II hit theaters. He must think it’s time to get back into business, too; The Green Inferno, a cannibal story, is already being set up for an end-of-year production start, while RZA‘s The Man with the Iron Fists, which he co-wrote, will open sometime in 2012.
One of Roth‘s biggest opportunities yet is now starting to coalesce, with Deadline reporting that he’s in line to replace Jaume Collet-Serra on the Dracula-based tale Harker. A somewhat unexpected move at first glance, though a reasonable choice when you read that the Orphan helmer plans to soon begin working on the Liam Neeson-starring actioner Non-Stop — when a studio wants to fast-track something, sacrifices need to be made — and Roth‘s been lucky enough to earn their trust.
Landing this job with Warner Bros. should be momentous enough, but Harker will also see him with Fists‘ Russell Crowe, who is now being pegged to lead as the infamous monster. Although prior reports led us to believe the actor would actually play its titular protagonist, Jonathan Harker, that role remains uncast.
And uncast it will remain until, in an insider’s words, the creative team “figure[s] out the story.” Which, naturally, makes me wonder why Lee Shipman and Brian McGreevy would have been credited as screenwriters for more than a year now — unless some big rewrites are currently underway.
Whatever the case, it’s expected that Harker will follow Bram Stoker‘s original character, Jonathan Harker, who’s been transformed from an English lawyer to a Scotland Yard detective investigating a series of brutal murders. Guess where (and who) that leads to.
This, being horror, is not an entirely different direction for Roth, though the (possibly) less gory content, period setting, and classical trappings should, with any luck, allow him to expand his wings at the same time. Derided though he may be in some circles, I’m happy to see the guy — who, any problems being put to the side, I see as one of the genre’s more interesting voices — find something new and have a reliable star at his disposal. If anything, I’d just hope all that time off didn’t make him rusty.
Harker will begin production next year.
Does Roth have the right stuff to make Harker a noteworthy spin on Dracula? How do you feel about Crowe playing the villain?
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