Director Steven Soderbergh’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. adaptation remains set for a Spring 2012 production start, despite it having lost (and not yet replaced) leading man George Clooney just a couple months ago.

The search has been ongoing for both Clooney’s replacement as American agent Napoleon Solo, and his Russian partner, Illya Kuryakin. A previously-released actor wish list for the film was composed of 30-something (or so) stars whose careers are on the rise. Hence why it’s not shocking to learn that a slightly older actor whose starmeter is on the up and up may snag the role of Solo.

Variety says that Soderbergh’s top choice for the part of Solo is Hangover franchise star Bradley Cooper. The site is also reporting that Cooper has actually been broached with an offer and will in all likelihood accept it – simply because the actor’s “team at CAA worked [hard] to position him for the coveted part.”

Cooper does seem like a natural to replace Clooney in… well, just about any role that the latter has been deemed fit for, seeing how they have a very similar screen persona (re: often somewhat smarmy, but charmingly so). Thus, it makes sense that Soderbergh would eventually settle on someone like Cooper – who’s currently working on David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook – to handle his Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘s version of the Solo character.

For those not familiar with the original Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series: It ran from 1964-1968 and revolved around the international buddy duo of Solo and Kuryakin: two agents who work for a secret organization known as the United Network Command For Law and Enforcement (or U.N.C.L.E. for short). They constantly foil the plans of a nefarious body called Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity (a.k.a. T.H.R.U.S.H.).

Man from U.N.C.L.E. screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!, Contagion) previously had the following to say (via Coming Soon), with regards to why Soderbergh’s adaptation will retain the Cold War setting of its inspiration:

“When you think about the world in the 1960’s just in terms of cars and fashion and the aesthetic, to be able to go and shoot that world with today’s cameras and today’s technology, I think we could do some really cool stuff. Then also, the thing that was so cool about ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ that people don’t realize–and this is why I like it more than ‘Mission: Impossible’–the initial conceit of ‘U.N.C.L.E.’ was amazing. It was really about an organization that didn’t have an affiliation with a country and Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin were guys who should’ve been sworn enemies. One was Russian and one was American and they worked together. In that way, it was a really incredibly progressive, hopeful kind of show.”

Soderbergh’s Man from U.N.C.L.E. isn’t expected to feature as many blockbuster set pieces or high-octane thrills as the latest entry in the Mission: Impossible film series (see: this winter’s Ghost Protocol). However, it should be a fairly light-hearted spy flick that mixes the breezy feel of the director’s Ocean’s Eleven trilogy with the more serious tone and action-packed design of his next release, Haywire.

In other words, Man from U.N.C.L.E. could play out a bit like director Steven Spielberg’s own 1960s flick, Catch Me If You Can – albeit, with a globe-trotting cat-and-mouse plot that involves covert agents.

We will continue to keep you posted on the status of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as more information is released.

Source: Variety