By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 20, 2011 at 3:49PM
Says 'Tomb Raider' Casting Rumors Are Just That
Filmmaker Rupert Wyatt has had a pretty speedy leap to the top of the A-list. The director made his debut in 2008 with the low-budget British thriller "The Escapist," which picked up deserved acclaim at Sundance and elsewhere, but was seen by virtually no one. Except, that is, for executives at Fox, who picked Wyatt to reboot one of their prize franchises with this year's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." And despite the helmer reportedly making the biggest-ever budgetary leap between first and second feature, by god, it worked as the film turned out to be not only very strong indeed, but also a great big hit.
The director has clearly become a hot property and recently, it seemed like his follow-up was starting to crystalize when the director was linked to "Londongrad," the long-gestating story of the Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was killed by radiation poisoning in London in 2006, something he claimed on his deathbed was orchestrated by the Russian security services and President Vladimir Putin. Warner Bros. were keen to team up Wyatt and man-of-the-moment Michael Fassbender, but it was announced on Friday, that Wyatt's commitment to another "Planet of the Apes" film meant that he wouldn't be able to make "Londongrad" his next film, although it was unclear if another director was being sought for the project, or if Wyatt might make the project after 'Apes.'
Well, we have an answer. The Playlist caught up with producer Graham King, whose GK Films are behind the project, during the press rounds for Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" today, and the producer suggested that it's more important to make the film with Wyatt down the line than to make it with someone else immediately. The Oscar-winning producer (who adored "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," telling us, "Wow, what a movie. I loved that film, what a way to reboot that franchise") said, "Rupert loves it, he loves the script, and I think one day he'll make it. But right now, he's going to do the sequel to "Planet of the Apes." He's working on that, and a few other things."
Nevertheless, Wyatt seems as keen on the project as anyone else. "[Rupert] came to us, and Warners," King told us, "and said 'I love this script, and I'd love to make this, but [Apes] is what I'm doing now.' And we were like, fine. He's a great filmmaker, and I really hope I get to work with him." With Warners being so hot on the project, we'd assumed that they'd try to move ahead with someone else involved, but it seems like King is committed to holding out for Wyatt for the moment, even at the expense of Fassbender. The producer said that the involvement of the "Shame" star depends on "when the movie gets made." That he's able to make a giant studio wait for him is testament to Wyatt's heat right now.
In addition to "Londongrad," King has got plenty of other projects in the works, and perhaps the most high profile is a reboot of the "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" franchise. Based on one of the biggest video game characters in history, the series reached the screen with two dismal Angelina Jolie vehicles in the early 00s, but King acquired the rights earlier in the year, with "Iron Man" writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby picked to pen the script, and King told us he's hoping to move forward with it shortly: "I just got the script in about two weeks ago, so I want to get [press for 'Hugo'] out the way, and over the holidays think about what direction to take that in. I'm really excited about it, it's something that's much different than I've done before."
The producer confirmed that the film is likely to follow in the footsteps of recent successful reboots, and focus on a younger Lara Croft (a British heiress-turned-gun-toting adventurer). "It's a fun reboot, taking Lara Croft back to her roots, when she was growing up, becoming Lara Croft. It was done so successfully with Batman, and 'Planet of the Apes' this year... so I think if we can be clever and smart about it, it could be good."
With it being relatively early stages on the project, however, any rumors about casting (the most persistent involving Olivia Wilde), should be discounted as the team haven't even thought about who might fill Lara's boots. "It's all rumors, I haven't really focused on it. So many rumors, every young actress to play Lara Croft, but we won't do anything about it until we get a script and a director." Two words: Hayley. Atwell.
So, King's clearly a busy man. We'll have more from our interview with him later in the week, while his latest project, "Hugo," will open on Wednesday, November 23rd.