While it took less than two months for Spike Lee to snag leading man Josh Brolin for his Oldboy re-interpretation – which will reportedly retain the two-word title of the original manga (Old Boy) and not the tweaked name of Chan-wook Park’s 2003 adaptation, subsequent attempts to secure an esteemed actor and up-and-coming young actress to portray (respectively) the film’s twisted villain and kindly female lead, have proven to be far more difficult.
Such decorated leading men as Christian Bale, Colin Firth and Clive Owen have been approached to play Old Boy‘s antagonist, but ended up passing on the chance for various reasons. The same goes for youthful starlets like Rooney Mara and Mia Wasikowska, who were both offered the female lead role at some point (before they declined).
Olsen is an actress whose career really took off in 2011, thanks to her acclaimed performance in the Sundance breakout flick Martha Marcy May Marlene (which also ranked as one of our favorite movies last year). The 23-year-old starlet looks to improve her standing even more in 2012, with a lead role in the upcoming “single-shot” psycho-thriller Silent House and a supporting part in the impending supernatural thriller Red Lights. Not to mention, Olsen already has several projects lined up for 2013, including the biographical drama Kill Your Darlings.
That’s all to say, like Mara and Wasikowska, Olsen is a respected young actress who’s increasingly in-demand around the indie movie market. She will reportedly have a significant opening in her work schedule by the time Old Boy looks to begin production later this year; whether or not Olsen will decide that Lee’s project is a worthy “filler” for that break, remains to be seen.
It’s been acknowledged that the basic plot setup for Lee’s Old Boy – based on a script by Mark Protosevich (The Cell and the screen story for Thor) – is essentially the same as Park’s adaptation and the original manga: a man (Brolin) is kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel room without explanation, before he is released nearly two decades later and given four days to determine why he was held captive.
However, Lee’s Old Boy will deviate from the source material and Park’s movie in several respects, including the addition of several new plot elements cooked up by Protosevich and a retooled ending, which producer Roy Lee says is even darker than the original. As fans of Park’s Oldboy know all too well, that is REALLY saying something.
Having a controversial filmmaker like Lee at the helm of the Americanized Old Boy reworking hasn’t helped the already-divisive project win over too many skeptics. Still, when Lee focuses primarily on telling a good story – rather than creating one of his trademark “joints” – the results tend to be both technically proficient and emotionally powerful (see: Malcolm X, 25th Hour, Inside Man, etc.).
Combine the promise that Lee will take that storytelling approach to Old Boy with the great acting talent being assembled, and it stands to reason: this could be a worthy remake after all.