2 years after the initial announcement of The Weinstein Company's acquisition of USA remake rights to the French award-winning blockbuster...
French media sites are announcing that Kevin Hart has been cast in the American remake of "d'Intouchables" (released as "The Intoucables" here in the States), taking over the role that helped make Omar Sy an international star. It's also a role for which he won the Cesar (the French equivalent of the Oscars) in 2012, for Best Actor.
Hart will co-star opposite the previously cast Colin Firth (playing the part originated in the French film by Francois Cluzet), in a film that tells the story relationship between a wealthy white aristocrat who becomes a quadriplegic after a paragliding accident, and the young "street-tough" black man he hires to take care of him.
According to French media sites like Allocine, one-half of the director pair that helmed the original French film, Olivier Nakache, dropped the news of Hart's casting on a French radio program, Radio Shalom, today.
Hart's casting shouldn't be much of a surprise. It's a role that plays to his talents as a comedic actor, and he's kind of *hot* right now, with box office hit, after hit over the last couple of years.
I should mention that, when the remake was first announced 2 years ago, in an interview with Elvis Mitchell, Harvey Weinstein, when asked what his approach would be with regards to recreating Omar Sy's character (who's Senegalese) for American audiences, versus the real life man he played in the film, who is Algerian, as the conversation dove into matters of immigration as experienced in France, compared to the USA, and how all that will factor into the USA remake.
Here's that segment of their conversation:
HARVEY: "Originally, the intention was to have a black actor do it, but you talk about immigration, and the whole Latino thing that's happening right now, it's opened up our eyes, and obviously there's an explosion of thought."
He then went on to talk about the unreliability of the Republicans on the immigration issue here in the USA, before Elvis jumped back in with this:
ELVIS: "In that way it could be a political film... the president decided to grant special status to people who live in this country... it felt like it could be a way into the story that you never thought about."
And Harvey agreed with Mitchell on that, adding what he felt was a misunderstanding we here in the USA had about the French film - essentially that we didn't get it, and we were looking at it through American eyes, if you will, losing the message of the film in the process - one that was embraced not only in France, but all over the world.
If you read our interview with Omar Cy (here), along with interviews we posted with the filmmakers of "The Intouchables," I think you would have sees a similar kind of response.
At the time, I felt that Harvey's responses gave us a lot to consider in terms of the remake, and a closer look was warranted. But, now that Hart has been cast, let's see how Harvey runs with this remake; I can only assume that Hart will play a black American man. He did say in the interview that they originally planned to cast an black (African American) actor, and had since considered NOT doing so.
As noted, in the real-life story the film is based on, the character played by Omar Sy - Abdel Sellou - is Algerian. But they went with the Senegalese Sy in the French film. Omar Sy himself said that the Stateside equivalent of the relationship between the countries that two men in the original film/real life are from, would be akin to the relationship between the USA and Mexico; so the character he plays in the original film should really be played by a Mexican actor in the Hollywood/Weinstein Company remake - if they wanted to be 100% authentic, as Omar Sy described.
But that question has now answered, with the apparent casting of Kevin Hart.
Let's see if Mitchell's suggestion that the remake could be a "political film," with some aspect of the immigration debate incorporated (or as Weinstein put it "the whole Latino thing"), is indeed worked into the story somehow, with Hart, and African American, now involved.
There are after all *Black Latinos.*
It was previously reported that Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock and Idris Elba were all on the short list of actors being considered to play the lead role, in director Paul Feig's remake. None of that was confirmed by Harvey, however.
In case you've forgotten it, below is the trailer for the original French film, which is streaming on Netflix right now, if you still haven't seen it. Catch it before the American remake.