‘Fantastic Four’: Tim Blake Nelson in Final Talks to Play ‘Mole Man’ Harvey Elder

Published 12 months ago by

Harvey Elder Mole Man Fantastic Four: Tim Blake Nelson in Final Talks to Play Mole Man Harvey Elder

After a few delays along the road to production, Twentieth Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot will begin filming in Louisiana this week with Miles Teller playing Reed Richards, Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm, Kate Mara as Sue Storm and Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm.

This new, younger version of Marvel’s first superhero team was assembled by Chronicle director Josh Trank, and the film has been described by screenwriter Simon Kinberg as a coming-of-age story that is tonally somewhere in between Chronicle and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Though filming hasn’t started yet and details of the plot (aside from the fact that it’s an origin story) are currently unknown, Fantastic Four has already taken a lot of fire from comic book fans, largely due to the lead actors being younger, shorter or darker-skinned than the team members in the original comics.

British actor Toby Kebbell has been confirmed as the choice for the Fantastic Four‘s main nemesis, Doctor Doom, but the latest casting news reveals that there’s another supervillain waiting in the wings. THR reports that Tim Blake Nelson is currently in final negotiations to play an “eccentric and socially awkward scientist” called Harvey Elder.

Tim Blake Nelson in The Incredible Hulk 570x294 Fantastic Four: Tim Blake Nelson in Final Talks to Play Mole Man Harvey Elder

Nelson is a brilliant character actor whose career has included many memorable roles, including Delmar O’Donnell in the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou, creepy prison warden Gideon in Minority Report and “Dr” Pendanski in the film adaptation of Louis Sachar’s Holes. Fantastic Four wouldn’t be his first outing in the Marvel multiverse, either, as he also played Samuel Sterns AKA The Leader in The Incredible Hulk. Of all the casting choices for the Fantastic Four reboot so far, Nelson as Harvey Elder would probably be the least controversial.

For those unfamiliar with the comics, Harvey Elder is better known as Mole Man (no, not that Moleman), a nuclear engineer and explorer who was shunned by the rest of society due to his diminutive, homely appearance and inability to get along with others. This eventually drove him underground, where he became the leader of a subterranean hive of creatures called the Moloids.

According to THR‘s sources, Nelson would only be playing Harvey Elder and not his supervillain alter ego, but the fact that he’s being included in the movie suggests that Fox may intend to set him up as the villain for a future sequel. Fantastic Four 2 already has a release date staked out for summer 2017, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the groundwork for it being laid in next year’s reboot.


Fantastic Four is out in theaters on June 19, 2015.

Source: THR

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  1. I’d rather see the Frightful Four myself. Or what about Impossible Man?

    • Frightful Four, yes. Wizard, Medusa, Sandman, Trapster…a perfect 4 on 4 foil for the Fantastic Four. Some of their best adversaries in the comics. However, Sandman’s rights may be owned by Sony, and Medusa’s by Disney/Marvel, since Fox owns the Fantastic Four rights, but Medusa later became a member of the Inhumans, while Sandman has been used as a Spiderman villain in the movies. Impossible man may have been Marvel’s answer to Mr. Mxtpykl or however you spell it, who plagued Superman, and was it “Q” who plague Star Trek Captain Picard and Co.? A for Mole man, some will probably “dig” him, as he says “Be respectful to your ELDERS”! The only problem is, the real Fantastic Four are not in this movie. This reboot is not out yet, and already critics of the old FF films have been somewhat silenced. This reboot will make them look good, and now critics will see how good they had it with the old FF (despite stupid dancing superheroes!).

  2. It’s a shame that we won’t see him playing the Leader in another Hulk film. He doesn’t know what he is getting into. This “f4 Crap” (with small letter) is going to blow big time.

    • So you have seen it? How was it? do tell…..

      • My guess is that is sux so hard my forehead collapses!

      • I have to ask that question too, because people will cry and complain about something that isn’t even in production yet and when the movies come out it oh so amazing. If you crying complainers can do better w/o even seeing a piece of footage then round up your own cast, write you own story and film your own movie…

        • Give me the money he was given to do that job and I will make the movie and guarantee it would be better than this. That’s an easy guarantee since nobody will ever give me the money to do it, but that’s a different story.

          • Betcha could do a better job, too!

        • Looks like the FF film crew are out in force on the blogs today, defending this enormous waste of time and money. Too bad no amount of spit shine will make this dog t u rd look good.

    • Who says we won’t at some point?

    • Guys, it’s okay for you to think a movie will suck before it comes out, but when you’re sitting in the movie theater waiting for it to start, FORGET ALL YOUR PREVIOUS THOUGHTS ON IT, and actually judge the movie for what it is and not how you felt about it before watching.

  3. I’m excited to hear Kebbell got the role of Doom..
    cheesy as the originals were i enjoyed Julian Mcmhans (sp?) performance in both films..
    moreso in the sequel..

  4. I’m excited to finally see The Underminer in live-action movie. He only had 1 line in The Incredibles

    • LOL!!! But you do realize that the Incredible’s actually ripped off FF4 lore. Mole Man has been around for many years.

      • I know. I was being sarcastic

  5. The FF re-booted makes their first good casting choice. But, is it too little too late?

    • I don’t know about the Mole man casting (the four heroes and Dr. Doom casting stunk, every one of them). But it is nice to see some villain besides time-worn old Doc Doomster. After all, there are more villains in the world than just that one. Too bad it sounds like he will just be a civilian baddie for the time being.

      • He is a great actor, he passes the quick glance visual test for character resemblance and he has experience in a wide variety of roles.

  6. The part about this new version of the FF that they are trying to create for this film that rally perplexes me is why?

    The FF is still a popular comic. It has fans who are from 5 to 70. If a studio wanted something new to develop, something to take in a new direction the why not the Doom Patrol or Secret Six? Or Danger Girl, Wetworks, dang there are so many group titles out there which are undeveloped.

    • Challengers of the Unknown comes to mind for me when I think of underdeveloped DC titles. Or Metamorpho. Or The Atom (one slight reference to Ray palmer in Arrow, and that was it? He was one of the early Justice League members, and after all, Marvel is getting Ant-Man…!

      • Challengers of the Unknown. Good call.

        As for individual heroes. Those two are DC owned and they are unlikely to part with them, though Im sure they would listen to offers on some of the lesser knowns. The groups seem to be the hot ticket right now.

      • I hate to drop this one because I have been working on a fan script, so I am very biased. But, do you remember Strikeforce Morturi? The comic is such a great concept and so open for reinterpretation. The original author is a bit of a recluse though from what I have found out so far. He actually kept the rights from Marvel, not sure how.

        • Hmmm, don’t remember Strikeforce Morturi off the top of my head. May have missed that one. You know who I would love to see someone get the rights to and do either a movie franchise or a TV series on is T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents! I always loved that old Wally Woods comic, short-lived though it’s original run was: Dynamo, Noman, Menthor, Lightning, The Thunder Squad, Iron Maiden, etc. I really think there is some undeveloped potential there that could be a rich vein to mine if done right. Kind of like super-heroes and super-villains meet The man From U.N.C.L.E., with a little early techno-thriller precursor thrown in for good measure! A year or two ago I read who was sitting on the rights for the characters and comic, but it escapes me who it was or where I read it.

  7. arrghhh!!!! before I even read the article I just had to comment on how silly the casting for this movie is
    and no I’m not talking about Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm

    Jaimie Bell as Ben Grimm ??? seriously ?? 1 he’s an english dude – they couldn’t find ONE guy for New York that was appropriate to play Ben Grimm – or at minimum someone who is American and more important someone that is right for the role ??
    they needed an actor (preferably at least 5′ 10″ or taller who looks like they could kick someone’s ass with or without superpowers?
    Ben has never been a short guy (which Jaimie Bell is at about 5’7″) – it’s a joke to cast him as Ben

    Benjamin J. Grimm is an all-star football player and part of a street gang as a youth – does anyone think of Jaimie Bell as a tough guy who would be smoking a cigar as a human or as a rock monster?
    no matter what people think of the original FF movies – Michael Chiklis nailed Ben Grimm as a character

    and Kate Mara as Sue Storm ?? come on …. she’s not unattractive, but there are definitely other actresses they could have cast who would make a FANTASTIC Sue Storm (pun intended)

    don’t get me wrong both Kate Mara & Jaime Bell are good actors in the roles I’ve seen them in (albeit not many), but they just don’t strike me as right for either role

    and then there is Miles Teller as Reed ….. ??? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him in anything, but visually … he’s NOT Mr. Fantastic

    and Michael Jordan …. he seems like the only one who might have been cast right
    funny thing is – if they were going change a character’s ethnicity from the comic books (not a big deal) – why not just change Ben’s ethnicity – he’s not related to anyone – there probably would have been less backlash and he’s altered to rock form probably after the first 30 mins, so most people wouldn’t even care – intact some people might have even really supported the change

    the only reason Jordan is cast is because he’s friends with the director, but between him and Jaime Bell – I think Jordan would be a more believable Ben Grimm – although really neither comes across as a “tough brawler” – Michael Chiklis on the other hand, while not a tall or imposing man is definitely not considered a “whimp” by most people (especially from his work on The Shield)

    now I’ll read the rest of the article

    FYI – I’m hoping this movie TOTALLY fails and results in FOX finally giving up the rights to Marvel
    heck I hope they don’t even finish the movie – due to some unexpected delay in production – that would be hilarious

    just think … even if Marvel didn’t reboot FF immediately it would completely open new doors for Phase 4, 5 or 6 – including the cosmic adventures and characters they could pursue … even if they waited before re-introducing the FF
    there are many awesome characters and stories tied to the FF rights – Galactus, Silver Surfer and all the heralds, the Negative Zone, etc.

    • “I’m hoping this movie TOTALLY fails”

      Negative Zone, check.

      Personally, I’m hoping that it’s good and does well. I don’t see any reason to be convinced otherwise, at this point.

      • just curious, how old are you ? have you grown up reading FF comic books, if so what era or years?

        I find it hard to believe any true fan of the FF (especially from before 2000) – ie. the original series and “golden age” – would find this movie adaptation, what little is known about it – to be eager for it to succeed

        RDJ proved that actors over 30 or in his case over 40, can play superheroes and build major franchises – if built right fans of all ages will flock to the theaters. This version of FF (apparently designed off the Ultimates ?) as a “coming of age” story is not what most people think of when it comes to the FF. Infact one distinction is that only Johnny is younger and at least Reed and Ben are just a little bit older (not much but enough for their to be a slight distinction in their attitude and behavior).

        • It’s because every studio wants to be the next Twilight Saga, so they keep getting younger and less experienced actors cause they are cheap labor. Kate Mara’s b1tch face always turns me off.

        • I am 56, and grew up reading the Fantastic Four from Issue #1 in the 60s and 70s. Where this movie is taking the original idea of the FF defies my vocabulary of curse words, and I can’t say much good about where the comics in later years took the team either. And it’s too bad, because the FF if they stuck FAITHFULLY to CANON, has so much potential for some great films. Too bad they have gone overboard, above and beyond to bury this franchise irredeemably (I guess one could say they need a re-re-boot after this one to try and reset the mess they have made, and start over). Frankly, when there is already this much hate for a film before it is even made, it is irresponsible for the studios to ram ahead and make it anyways, costing the project so much money in a failed and expensive venture.

    • You are absolutely correct on all points! Would you please speak with the powers that be. Maybe you could make a proper FF movie. There are too many ego-maniacal directors who start by asking, “Wouldn’t it be great if we did this instead?” Well, wouldn’t it be great if you just read the comics, understood that they are great the way they are, and stay true to the source material? IS IT TOOOOOO MUCH TO ASK?!! The only issue with the first FF movies is that they were goofy…and Reed and Sue were miscast…and Doom was miscast and misrepresented…and Galactus was a cloud…sigh…

  8. I still want to see Tim Blake Nelson as The Leader in the Incredible Hulk sequel, with Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. That would be awesome.

    • +1000

    • the Leader – YES !!!! return of TBN to the role … eh … his part was so brief in the first film and he didn’t actually play the Leader so no real loss and there are definitely other great actors who could fill his shoes

      but yes Marvel must have plans to introduce the leader at some point – and technically the never confirmed what happened to him
      his last shot in the movie was the green serum dripping on his open wound and his head starting to throb …
      he was never arrested (and why would he have been ?? he didn’t do anything wrong & wasn’t destroying the campus – Hulk did all that)

      The Leader will return at some point – the only question will be when & who will play him.
      some people have guessed the Clairvoyant could be The Leader, but now with Hydra definitely behind that villain – it’s most likely NOT The Leader.

      • In the official tie-in comic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers Prelude: Fury’s Big Week, it is explained that The Leader was actually arrested by Black Widow.
        I really, really, REALLY hope this is not the last we saw of the Leader, because I have a feeling that Marvel just want’s us to forget that The Incredible Hulk happened, because it didn’t do as good in the box office as the other Marvel movies, so they tie up lose ends of that movie with these tie in comics.
        Let’s just hope he was sent to Fridge and now is freed by HYDRA in Agents of Shield.

  9. This FF reboot, judging by the casting already made, seems to be in peril.

  10. You know Andrew Garfield is also English, right?

    I’d love to see a Marvel Studios FF, though.

  11. Thank goodness! For a minute, there, I thought they might cast the Human Shrew or Dr. Malappropism, but Mole Man is awesome! (*facepalm*)

  12. I was under the impression he had been secured by Marvel studios for multiple films. I guess that might have been a rumor. If he’s not playing the Leader in future films then my AoU crackpot theory just got a little less crackpot.

  13. Well, at least we can recast The Leader now. THANK GOD. Nelson would’ve made the Leader funny, I can see that happening, he’d probably act like Riddler in Batman Forever. That’s just how I see it.

    The Leader needs to be brilliantly menacing. You need a great actor for this role. Someone who can do be the most menacing thing in a Hulk movie, but that’s hard to do since the Leader is a bit scrawny, and looks a bit funny.

    • Nelson would’ve made the Leader funny, I can see that happening, he’d probably act like Riddler in Batman Forever.

      Ok correct me if I am wrong.

      A writer writes the part and how the character acts and what the character says.
      A director directs the actor in the way the writer wrote the part and sometimes changes parts or whole things about the character.
      A actor acts the part as it is written on the script and the way the director directs him (or her) to.

      So how would Nelson make the Leader funny unless the writer and or director portray it as such?

      While I can understand high caliber actors can sway the way a character is portrayed I find if difficult to believe Nelson has that kind of clout.

      • Which has always been my main problem with people who claim “Actor A made the character too goofy”. Those are the people who clearly don’t know anything about acting because while you can slightly influence the portrayal, you’re pretty much stuck with trying to interpret things the way the writer has it on the script.

        Jim Carrey said he went with a Frank Gorshin impersonation with his Riddler but I’m sure that’s only because that’s the interpretation he got from the script he received. Likewise Tommy Lee Jones hamming it up as a goofy version of Two-Face.

        • You’re pretty wrong actually. First of all when a screenplay is being shot, it’s rarely treated as sacred, it changes on the fly constantly. Also 2 different actors can have wildly different takes on a character, even how to interpret the dialogue. Some directors trust their actors and let them come up with their own characterization, some tell their actors exactly how to act and I know of a lot of actors who find that a little offensive.

          • Yeah, it was Depps choice to play Sparrow the way he ended up being portrayed. Lucky he made that choice, or we wouldn’t have the Pirates franchise. Or is that unlucky?

        • Frank Gorshin was a great Riddler and dined the character. Do you know, though, that he was also a talented dancer and singer? Or that he had a small part in an oldie sci-fi flick, “Invasion of the Saucer-Men”? A good entertainer, indeed.

          • Oops. “Dined” should be “defined”. Gorshin defined the character; he did not eat him.

      • bill murray RARELY says whats in the script of any movie he’s in. he is a master of improv. some actors change the script to suit them *Coughednortoncough*, so you cant really go by “the script says…the director says…”

  14. Wow… So much negativity. I swear unless Marvel is making it then people will just s*** on it without even seeing any of the movie. Wait until there’s a trailer or something before you crap all over it.

  15. “and inability to get along with others”

    So we have a bunch of Mole Mans that post on this site huh?


    (and yes I purposely put Mans)

    • I read that and instantly thought of the “I’m ‘fraid from wolfmens” line from The Terminal.

  16. They’re doing mole man? That’d be cool if this movie wasn’t already so lame. Still boycotting this movie. Just giving credit where it’s due.

  17. “Fantastic 4 has already taken a lot of fire from comic book fans, largely due to the lead actors being younger, shorter or darker-skinned than the team members in the original comics.” WRONG!!! Fans, like me, are pissed because IT DOES NOT REMAIN TRUE TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL. When the characters are literally, completely different from the source material, there is a problem. For the eternal optimists out there, it might be a good movie, but it is NOT the Fantastic 4.

      • Dazz, you are obviously a competent and well read fan. I appreciate the reference to the Ultimate series; however, Ultimate series are not source material, rather they draw upon the source material to create new narratives. More importantly, combining original source material with Ultimate material results in a convoluted mess. Film makers just pick and choose what they like from each world and create an anomaly with no true narrative. I would love to see either a movie that was true to the original material or consistent with the Ultimate material, but not both.

        • hence the problem currently with Spiderman

      • Ultimate Universe bucko. Not the real Marvel Universe

    • “WRONG!!! Fans, like me, are pissed because IT DOES NOT REMAIN TRUE TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL. When the characters are literally, completely different from the source material.”

      It’s hard to see how you could know that when we don’t know anything about the plot and characters yet. Aside from who’s playing them, of course. And since that’s all we have to go on, the complaints have been directed at their appearances.

      Therefore, I’m not “WRONG!!!”

      • I can only assume you have not been following updates about plot and characters. The actors have been cast. Look at the cast. Look at the characters in the comic. The actors are miscast based on appearance and age. It was revealed that the manner in which the FF acquired their powers is not the same as in the comic. Based on this information, one can reasonably draw the conclusion that the director has deviated from the source material. Elementary…

        • Putting aside the fact that this movie will canonically take place in an alternate universe, like all the other Marvel movies, it looks like the “source material” in this case is the Ultimate Marvel comics.

          I repeat: you’re basing all your complaints on the actors’ age and appearance, which is exactly what I said in the article. I wouldn’t say that being a different age or race to the original Fantastic Four makes them “literally, completely different.” Maybe if Reed Richards was renamed Horace Muldoon and was a Scottish psychic with the power to make daisies grow out of people’s ears you could make that argument.

          As for how they get their powers, all that’s been said is, “There is archetypal imagery of how they get their powers, for sure, and it does involve some sort of scientific travel.” Maybe it’s like the original version, maybe it’s more like the Ultimate version. We’ll have to wait and see.

          Just relax. At least wait until you see a bit of footage before you start forming such strong opinions on it.

  18. can anyone explain how there gonna handle the backstory on how johnny storm and susan storm are brother and sisters yet Michael B Jordan is african/american? im assuming maybe Johnny being adopted or something along those lines, although Michael B Jordan is a great actor and look forward to seeing him in this

    • does it really matter? really? are you going to watch the movie and focus on that one thing?

      i have to say these comments are more entertaining than the last F4 film.

  19. Hey, I have an idea. Lets reboot ‘Blade’ but make him a white guy!

    • But Blade was a white man in the 90s Spider-Man cartoon.

      • He was more latino-looking than white IMO. Though the cartoon was great, but Chameleon’s hypertech suit, what the :D

      • What?? He was totally black in the 90′s cartoon, like barely a shade lighter than Wesley Snipes.

    • @That Guy Who Doesn’t Read Comics “Hey, I have an idea. Lets reboot ‘Blade’ but make him a white guy!” that is just dumb. they [movie producers] are going for more diversity in their films based on comic book characters, and since there are few “people of color” in the comics, changing one from [black, asian, latino, etc...] to white, would just be counter productive. think before you make inane comments in the future.

      • Sarcasm obviously doesn’t translate from print very well with you.

  20. I’ve always liked the idea of Mole Man on screen, especially his Gargantuan Monsters. They could really do some great pacific rim-style battles with giant subterranean opponents. “It’s Clobberin’ Time!”

    I’m actually looking forward to this reboot, F4 has a vast rogues gallery and I hope they make a great film so we get to see more of F4′s adventures.

  21. I was excited when they announced the reboot

    BUT then I was frustrated that Jordan got cast as Torch even though he is a good actor with right attitude.

    BUT… NOW I AM EXCITED!!! I’ve always liked Mole Man as a villain of the FF

  22. I’ve this crazy thought and just wanted to post it somewhere…

    I think it would be cool, if Sebastian Stan appears as Bucky in Daredevil series, connecting the dots and all, highly unlikely though, but as Winter Soldier or as Bucky he can appear on AoS, instead of Cap finding him and all in season 2 maybe, the team encounters him, and as Stan has appeared as Mad Hatter on OUAT on tv, his guest starring wont be a big problem imo, and a big name would be on..

    Also, if they ever make a sequel to The Incredible Hulk, I want Edward Norton to reprise his role, and maybe The Leader can be in it…

    I’m excited about F4.

    Are the rights to Cable with Disney/Marvel?

    And please I want a Cyclops cameo in X-Men:Days of Future Past and him as the lead in Apocalypse.

    • Sorry to brake this to you…but Mark Ruffalo is the Hulk now.

      No, unfortunately Fox still has the rights to all X-Men characters including Cable and Deadpool.

      And Cyclops likely won’t be in Apocalypse since it will focus on the First Class team.

  23. The Underminer cometh!

  24. Least controversial?? He looks absolutely nothing like the character. Even the description you gave doesn’t even fit him.