While names like Tom Hardy, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Garrett Hedlund and Chris Pine are ostensibly the five biggest rising and most-wanted leading males in Hollywood, arguably no actor is more desirable in Tinseltown right now in than Irish/German actor Michael Fassbender. In the two and half years since 2009's "Hunger" put him on the map as an acting force to be reckoned with, the thespian has found himself in the utmost demand and has already worked with some of the most top-shelf and interesting directors out there, including Ridley Scott ("Prometheus"), Steven Soderbergh ("Haywire"), Matthew Vaughn ("X-Men: First Class"), British helmer Steve McQueen again (the follow-up to "Hunger," titled "Shame"), David Cronenberg ("A Dangerous Method") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Bastards"). In the works are collaborations with Jim Jarmusch (an untitled vampire film opposite Mia Wasikowska and Tilda Swinton) and actor Brendan Gleeson's directorial debut, "At Swim-Two-Birds" with Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy.
The much-sought-after actor was also wanted for the lead in "Akira" and Danny Boyle's upcoming heist picture, "Trance," but while Fassbender was interested in the latter role, it eventually didn't pan out.
Reports swirled on Friday that Fassbender has now been offered the lead in "Prisoners," a long-gestating crime thriller compared to “Mystic River,” “Taken,” “Silence of the Lambs” and “Seven,” that centers on a Boston father who, in vigilante-like desperation, kidnaps and tortures the person he suspects is behind the kidnapping of his young daughter and her best friend. So yes, on late Friday we confirmed with Fassbender's reps that the actor has indeed been offered the lead role of the father Keller Dove, a Bible-reading, deer-hunting survivalist who takes the law into his own hands after he feels failed by a young, brash detective in charge of the investigation who cannot prove that the man he believes is responsible is guilty.
But more importantly, it's just an offer -- will Fassbender take the role? After all, it's arguable that no other in-development picture in recent memory has gone from as hot to as cold as "Prisoners" has. It's debatably a major hot potato that many A-listers have flirted with, but then left in the dust.
To take you down memory lane, "Prisoners" was written by Aaron Guzikowski (who wrote the upcoming Mark Wahlberg thriller “Contraband”) and landed very high on the 2009 Black List. Bryan Singer was originally attached with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale as the picture’s two leads before both actors eventually moved on to David O. Russell‘s “The Fighter," and the director then ducked out as well. The next iteration involved filmmaker Antoine Fuqua and Hugh Jackman, but never came to pass. In early 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio stepped in as a possible star but with only a brief window of availability, and his participation was contingent on a director he loved. Names were batted around including hot Swedish filmmaker Daniel Espinosa, whose still-to-be-released-in-the-U.S. thriller “Snabba Cash” (”Easy Money”) garnered him the director's chair to “Safe House” with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, but nothing came of it. In April of this year, Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who helmed the critically praised and Oscar nominated “Incendies,” was hired by Warner Bros. to direct the picture, but all previously attached talent had vacated the project including DiCaprio.
Ben Affleck was also rumored to be in talks for the role, but it appears nothing transpired there either. So the question remains, will Fassbender bite? Frankly, it remains to be seen. In terms of Hollywood perception, "Prisoners" is nearing the point of unwanted step-child, a picture that everyone once wanted to be involved in that has now been downgraded director-wise (at least in terms of A-level heat, though Villeneuve is certainly an on-the-rise guy). Michael Fassbender is an actor who has the pick of the litter in terms of what projects he can get and what directors he wants to work with and if Danny Boyle can't bag him -- Fassbender reportedly bailed on "Trance" for scheduling conflicts, but it's unclear whether it was a much-needed rest or an unannounced competing project -- does the less-hot "Prisoners" stand a chance?
It's debatable and there are many factors in play, including scheduling and whether it's shooting at a convenient time. It's conceivable that this arrangement could work, but Fassbender's agents might be looking toward the Scorseses, Spielbergs and James Camerons of the world before they take this kind of detour. To be completely fair, there's a reason "Prisoners" made the Black List's top five in 2009 and all this talent has hovered the project. It's a crackling, turn-paging script that this writer loved. However, it's possible that some talent circling the project had some reservations, and possibly felt the same as one Playlist writer who called it a good read, but a "familiar one."