[UPDATE: Nate Parker will not be appearing in Old Boy. Scroll down to learn who his replacement is.]
Parker recently made Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch in 2012 list, thanks to his enjoyable lead performance earlier this year in the otherwise-lackluster Red Tails – as well as his buzzed-about supporting role in next week’s Richard Gere drama-thriller Arbitrage, which is one of our most-anticipated September releases. He can also be seen in Lee’s Red Hook Summer, currently playing in (very) limited release.
Old Boy tells the tale of Joe Douchett (Josh Brolin), a man kidnapped and held captive in a motel room for some 15-20 years by a sadistic billionaire (Sharlto Copley) who has formed a pathological obsession with Joe for mysterious reasons. Joe is eventually freed, under order that he must discover the truth behind his “punishment” in a matter of days – or suffer further, painful, consequences.
Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Silent House) plays the female lead, a young social worker who feels sorry for Joe and helps him navigate a dark and dangerous new world – one, it turns out, Joe is equipped to handle after spending the years of his imprisonment becoming a human weapon. Jackson plays a character who suffers Joe’s wrath, while Variety says Parker has entered talks to play a doctor who works alongside Olsen.
[UPDATE: Variety now says that Parker had to pass on Old Boy due to a scheduling conflict. James Ransone (who worked with Lee on Inside Man and Red Hook Summer) has replaced him as a doctor who works with Olsen.]
Chan-wook Park’s cult classic Oldboy adaptation (based on the Japanese manga by Nobuaki Minegishi) is an unflinching and nuanced examination of the dark side of human nature. It’s for that reason the Hollywood remake was controversial well before Lee got involved.
Mark Protsevich (The Cell, I Am Legend) has reportedly crafted the Old Boy script so that the themes featured in Park’s movie, as well as Minegishi’s comic book, are re-contextualized to create “a specifically American story.” Moreover, producer Roy Lee claims the new ending is even more disturbing that the original conclusion to all previous versions of the story.
Spike Lee’s involvement assures that Old Boy will be compelling from a technical standpoint, as even the Oscar-nominee’s least-liked “joints” (She Hate Me, Miracle at St. Anna) boasts moments of filmmaking wizardry - not to mention, the cast continues to get even better with the addition of Parker. Whether or not the Old Boy script from Protosevich is also up to scratch, remains to be seen.
Expect to hear more about Old Boy in the near future, as production is scheduled to get underway next month – with a late 2013 theatrical date possibly in mind.