Some two weeks ago, word began circulating that Colin Firth had been offered the villain role in director Spike Lee’s Oldboy (semi-)remake. However, we here at Screen Rant refrained from reporting it, due to a Tweet from Variety’s Jeff Sneider indicating that the Oscar-winner being approached was really old news – and, more importantly, that Firth had all-but-officially passed on the part, by that point.
Firth was recently out promoting his new film, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (which hits U.S. theaters next month) when he touched on the Oldboy matter, revealing that his involvement is not a done deal, either way.
“Well I don’t like to discuss things which are in a kind of early stage of—we’re not that closely acquainted with things, but yeah there has been an approach about ‘Oldboy’. No decisions have been made yet by anybody.”
In other words: at the end of the day, Firth could join Christian Bale as one of the decorated actors who was offered the antagonistic role in Lee’s Oldboy, but ultimately passed on the opportunity. Then again, he could also end up signing on for the project, which would pit him against Josh Brolin in the lead.
[UPDATE: Twitch is reporting that Firth has passed on the Oldboy villain role.]
Oldboy started out as a Japanese comic book (re: manga) that was adapted into cinematic form by Korean director Chan-wook Park in the early 2000s. That movie has since gone on to become a cult-classic, celebrated for its disturbing plot twists and bits of filmmaking flair (see: this mildly NSFW single-shot hallway fight scene). The tale revolves around a man (Brolin) who is inexplicably imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years before being released and charged with finding out the truth behind his imprisonment – under the threat that his daughter will be murdered, should he fail.
That basic plot setup is largely being retained in Lee’s Oldboy. However, screenwriter Mark Protosevich (The Cell, I Am Legend) is not strictly “Americanizing” Park’s film adaptation; he is also drawing inspiration from the original Oldboy manga and adding a good chunk of brand-new narrative material to the mix. Hence why the project was referred to as a semi-remake above.
Firth may be better known for playing charming and likable characters, but he’s a versatile actor who could easily pull off a flat-out sinister variation on his previous villainous turns (see: Shakespeare in Love, Dorian Gray). So, when you combine his potential involvement with Brolin playing the vengeance-fueled lead, and Lee’s technical prowess as a director, Oldboy does sound all the more appealing.
That said: there are still many fans of the original Oldboy movie who aren’t ready to embrace this new version just yet. While Park’s adaptation may ultimately prove to be superior to Lee’s film, this could also be a case where both works are able to stand on their own feet – much like a previous Americanized semi-remake and its Asian cinematic counterpart, a.k.a. Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and Infernal Affairs.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Oldboy as more information is released.