By Drew Taylor | The Playlist September 4, 2013 at 6:24PM
Jared Harris is one of those actors who, no matter the size or quality of the role, we still get excited about seeing onscreen (case in point: the otherwise abysmal "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"). Harris, the son of the legendary Richard Harris, makes any movie infinitely more memorable by his mere presence, adding some much-needed color to even the dreariest of studio affairs. Thankfully, a couple of said studio affairs are getting significantly less dreary thanks to Harris: the actor has recently signed on to costar in both Guy Ritchie's big budget "Man from U.N.C.L.E." and the "Poltergeist" remake for "Monster House"-director Gil Kenan.
Harris will be joining "Poltergeist"—which, from what we have been told, is a far-too-rigid, modern retelling of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg's original 1982 haunted house classic—in the role of Carrigan, described by Deadline as "a larger than life TV personality who left the world of academia behind to become the star host of basic cable TV show 'Haunted House Cleaners.' " This is the character that is filling in for Zelda Rubinstein's Tangina character from the original film, the dwarfish psychic who makes contact with "the other side."
Harris will star alongside Rosemarie DeWitt and the recently confirmed Sam Rockwell in the remake, which was written by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. And yes, there are elements of found footage within this new film. Commence groaning.
American audiences probably best know Harris from his role as the villainous Moriarty from Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows," so it's unsurprising that the duo would reteam for "Man from U.N.C.L.E." Ritchie's take on the classic television series stars Henry Cavill as CIA Agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, who team up to stop all sorts of Cold War. Originally the film was set to be the swansong for Steven Soderbergh, but star George Clooney's protracted back problems and infighting with the studio (Warner Bros) led Soderbergh to depart the project. The studio threw out the Scott Z. Burns script that Soderbergh was working from, and Ritchie and his writing/producing partner Lionel Wigram, a key player on the two 'Sherlock' movies, wrote a new draft, which is what they're using. Harris will play Sanders, if that means anything to anyone, and joins a supporting cast that includes Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant.
Hilariously, Harris nearly didn't star in "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" for Ritchie. In an interview with Empire around the time the movie came out (sadly not online), Harris recounted how badly both Ritchie and star Robert Downey, Jr. wanted Daniel Day Lewis for the role of the Napoleon of crime. Apparently Ritchie's kids go to school with Day Lewis' kids and he would go as far as to bug him at school functions. The story goes (some of which is what we've heard too), production went as far as to not even introduce the character until a couple weeks into shooting, and the costume department even had the character's costumes made to Day Lewis' dimensions. When Day Lewis just stopped returning the production's phone calls and didn't show up to set, Harris was cast, knowing full well of the situation. It got to the point that tailors were employed to readjust the costumes for Harris, a time-consuming, labor-intensive (and hilarious) process.
Harris can be seen in the upcoming Oren Moverman-penned Hammer horror film "The Quiet Ones" as well as Paul W.S. Anderson's volcanic action flick "Pompeii" (both due out next year) and can be heard in Laika's latest stop motion animated marvel "The Boxtrolls," also due next year.