By The Playlist | The Playlist November 14, 2011 at 8:45PM
While his film taste is indiscriminate and eclectic, Steven Soderbergh's taste in collaborators tends to be monogamous. Both George Clooney and Matt Damon and the Oscar-winning director have made six pictures together (and Damon has one more collaboration in the works), Michael Douglas and Benico Del Toro have two films a piece with the filmmaker and one new muse is emerging: Channing Tatum.
The co-star of "Haywire," and the star of summer 2012's stripper movie, "Magic Mike," Channing Tatum is now in line to lead Soderbergh's adaptation of the 1960s-made TV spy series, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." Deadline beats us to something that’s been brewing for a week, but as they say, no offer has been made. However, Soderbergh and Tatum met last week to discuss the project and at least in their minds, it's another good fit for both of them. However, as you noticed this project keeps changing by the week so keep an eye on that…
Yes, both Bradley Cooper and Joel Edgerton were offered the two leads in the picture -- American and Russian 'U.N.C.L.E' spies Napolean Solo and Illya Kuryakin – and as we learned last week, Cooper is no longer in the mix. Edgerton is likely out as well.
Both men are out in the current plan – admittedly one that has changed several times over the course of the last few weeks – and Soderbergh and Warner Bros. seem to be eye to eye on this pick (WB just picked up "Magic Mike" for summer 2012 and based on what they've seen, they're Tatum believers). Tatum would play the lead Napolean Solo. No deal is in place, but unlike the Cooper offer that fell apart quickly, this one should be locked in soon. That is unless something else changes in ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ land and at this point, anything’s possible. There's no word on who will play Kuryakin yet, but ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ was all about a lead and co-lead perfect mix-and-match combo so Edgerton (who was deemed to be a good fit with Cooper ) is no longer in play.
Like "Haywire," the idea for 'UNCLE' is to feature a colorful and name-brand cast in various supporting roles. Once the two leads are in place, supporting players will come into play. If you recall the original 1960s show on NBC (which starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as the two leads), part of the episode premises was often times recruiting or incorporating a civilian into the 'U.N.C.L.E.' duo’s plan. The script by Scott Z. Burns plays with this concept as well. Two females being mentioned for parts have been Emily Blunt (who starred in “Wind Chill” by Gregory Jacobs, Soderbergh’s longtime producing partner) and Imogen Poots (from the Soderbergh executive produced “Solitary Man”), but there’s nothing concrete there yet. Potential female roles are the aforementioned civilian and Lisa Rogers, a female U.N.C.L.E. agent who appeared in the fourth season of the TV show.
While 'Bourne'-like spy films are a dime a dozen these days, what will separate this project from others is Soderbergh and screenwriter Burns' take on the material: keeping the setting in the 1960s and doing their take on a period piece actioner.
"The thing that was really fascinating to me was how do you make a spy movie without [modern] technology," Burns, a frequent Soderbergh collaborator, told us during an interview for "Contagion" earlier this fall. "And some of the things that you can’t do anymore because everyone has a cell phone. So that was really cool, and also being able to use some of the camera technology that we have now with those cars and those clothes and that was really cool. I haven’t really written a period thing. And that was what drove me to it was I thought that’s a different set of tools to do a spy movie with and the Cold War’s pretty fascinating."
U.N.C.L.E. stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, and on the original show it featured an American and Russian spy that worked above both nations battling against an organization known as the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity – T.H.R.U.S.H.