By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 12, 2011 at 1:58AM
In a year full of dubious-looking comic-book adaptations ("Thor," "Captain America," "X-Men: First Class" and, most of all, "Green Lantern"), there's one property that looks a little more promising: Lionsgate and DNA Films' "Dredd." An adaptation of the semi-fascist, "Dirty Harry"-inspired future cop character "Judge Dredd," which serves as the flagship title for British comic house 2000AD, and which previously saw itself on the big screen in watered down, incredibly shitty form in the mid-90s, as played by Sylvester Stallone, the new version looks to be far more encouraging.
Paul Greengrass protege Pete Travis ("Omagh," "Vantage Point") is directing, there's a very strong script from Alex Garland ("Never Let Me Go," "Sunshine") and Karl Urban will embody the anti-hero -- who, it's promised, in keeping with comics lore, won't remove his iconic helmet. Filming's underway in South Africa now, and word has just broken that a familiar genre face will be playing the Judge's principle adversary.
After rumors started circulating on Dredd fansites, The Playlist have confirmed with reps for actress Lena Headey ("300") that the British star will play the principle antagonist, Ma-Ma in the project. The matriarch of a drugs gang, who deals a reality-altering narcotic known as SLO-MO, and who presides despotically over an enormous apartment block called Peach Trees, in which most of the action is set, the character, intriguingly, is described in Garland's script as being heavily made-up and scarred, in her later 50s/early 60s, and enormously fat. Will Headey be donning a fat suit and prosthetics for the role, or has the character been glammed-up in later drafts?
Headey's been a presence for nearly two decades now. Since debuting in Disney's live-action "The Jungle Book," she's worked solidly ever since, seeing her career given a new lease of life after playing the Queen in Zack Snyder's "300," which led to two seasons on TV in "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." She's recently wrapped up the first season of HBO's eagerly anticipated "Game of Thrones" series, but this should be a fun role for her to get her teeth into, "Norbit"-suited or not.
Headey joins Urban and "Juno" star Olivia Thirlby, who'll play Dredd's sidekick, a trainee judge with psychic powers. Like we said, we're big fans of Garland's script, which firmly captures the spirit of the character, with lashings of Verhoeven-style gore and moral ambiguity, and if Travis can get it on the screen, this should be a superhero actioner a few cuts above its rivals. A UK release date in December is being eyed, with the US to follow in early 2012.