Frears is in Park City to promote his new film, “Lay the Favorite,” a dramedy starring Rebecca Hall as a former exotic dancer who finds her calling after taking a job for a professional gambler. The acclaimed filmmaker said that the idea for remaking “The Hit” came up several years ago, and conversations with the producer who bought the rights to the story prompted him to consider taking the job himself. “A long time ago, somebody bought the remake rights,” he explained. “In fact, I once saw a play and [someone] was sitting in the seat next to me and he said, ‘I’m off to make your film, do a remake of your film.' ”
The original film follows a London gangster who gets drawn back into the criminal underworld after providing evidence to the authorities of his colleagues’ misdoings. Frears said that he thinks the story not only would translate easily to an American context, but flourish within it. “I always thought, I mean, the truth is you can make it with American actors,” he insisted. “And I used to think, 'Oh, I wonder why nobody came and said, look, set it in Mexico and do it with American actors' – because in Europe, we think of the cinema as American,” he said with a laugh.
“So when the producer came to me, I said, oh, what a great idea! But you have to get it right,” he added.
Nevertheless, Frears acknowledged that the cultural climate would have to change as well, given the fact that the first film is just shy of 30 years old, although its core components are strong enough to ensure its survival during translation. “The context would change,” he observed. “It’s a really good story – it’s just a chase, really. And when you find good stories, you film them. Anyways, I’ve always thought it seemed to be a good idea when it was proposed to me. But we’re not there yet.”
“Lay the Favorite” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and is currently seeking distribution.