Well, I think it’s safe to say no one saw this coming…
According to ComicBook.com, website The Tracking Board reports that British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, know for films such as Borat, Ali G, Sweeny Todd, Alice: Through the Looking Glass and others, will don the top hate and cape for the lead role for the upcoming Hollywood Mandrake the Magician film. The report goes on to say that the movie will be directed by Etan Cohen, who was behind Get Hard but is better known for his screenwriting on films such as Tropic Thunder and Idiocracy.
The report on The Tracking Board goes on to say that the film will be a 21st century “update” of the character and that the story will revolve around the US government recruiting Mandrake for a secret mission. This is interesting because, as those of who have been with us for a while may note, this is rather similar to a previously planed Mandrake film that was to star Johnathan Rhys-Meyers. At one point the film was recast with Hayden Christensen, but it still didn’t go anywhere.
The article gives a brief rundown of the long-in-development-hell project saying:
The project has been in development for years, undergoing multiple variations at the hands of several writers and producers. Previously, Disney and the Jacobson Company were developing the project, where a number of writers, including Peter Magill, David Levien, and Brian Koppelman all turned in drafts. Hyde Park and Baldwin Entertainment were developing the story with writers Tom Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, and Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, with Josh Richmond writing the original adaptation based on Falk’s comic strip. Directors Chuck Russell and Mimi Leder were previously attached, while Jonathan Rhys Meyers was once attached to star. Now, with Baron Cohen attached to the lead and Etan Cohen on board to direct, it looks like the project has momentum once again.
The big question is, of course, will the movie get off the ground this time? With Cohen involved it suggests the film might be turned into a comedy, but then lots of comedic actors have also done serious roles and as anyone who has seen Hugo will attest, Cohen is able to do serious. Whatever the result, it’s sure to be better than the thankfully-never-made Criss Angel Mandrake film (shudder!).