Spike Lee Promises ‘Old Boy’ Will Feature a Diverse Cast

Published 3 years ago by , Updated October 16th, 2013 at 6:08 am,

oldboy remake Spike Lee Promises Old Boy Will Feature a Diverse Cast

Spike Lee is known for being a lot of things, but few (no one?) would criticize him for creating “white-washed” portraits of America throughout his films. Lee is an indie cinema pioneer whose willingness to tackle racially-charged subject matter has remained constant, on through to his upcoming film, Red Hook Summer; even his genre efforts traditionally boast a diverse acting ensemble, as far as ethnicity goes (Clockers, Insider Man).

The Oldboy remake (going under the tweaked title Old Boy) is the next item on Lee’s docket. Josh Brolin is playing the protagonist, Joe Douchett, a weak-willed man imprisoned in a hotel room for nearly two decades. He emerges a hardened brute, tasked with discovering the reason for his punishment by his mysterious captor (Sharlto Copley).

Old Boy was a lightning rod for controversy well before Lee signed on as director. Steve Spielberg, at one point, had plans to team with Will Smith on the project, but that failed to pan out. Such filmmakers as Danny Boyle and Matthew Vaughn were shortlisted as propositions to take the helm about a year after Spielberg moved on; another eight months passed before Lee finally landed the job (and kicked the figurative hornet’s nest again).

A leaked casting cast for Old Boy is responsible for the latest wave of fan anger over the project. The call sheet features several roles that call for caucasian actors and actresses. However, descriptions for the few non-white supporting characters like an unnamed Asian woman (“mysterious exotic beauty”), a middle-aged African-American woman (“drug addicted nutcase”), and a Latino man (“bullishly strong street thug/criminal”) have some people up in arms.

Oldboy Remake Spike Lee Promises Old Boy Will Feature a Diverse Cast

Here is the full casting shortlist for Lee’s Old Boy:

[WALLACE SHARKEY] Male, 60ish, Caucasian. Joe’s well-tailored, slickster boss.

[DONNA HAWTHORNE] Female, Mid 20s, Caucasian. Joe’s ex-wife and mother of Mia. Once a homecoming queen, now a stripped down hardworking single mom.

[DAVE BERMAN] Mid 40s to 50s. African-American. Shlubby, but very welthy businessman. Joe hits on his much younger girlfriend.

[ASIAN WOMAN] Female, Early to mid 20s, Asian. A mysterious exotic beauty sitting at the bar observing Joe. MARTIAL ARTS EXPERIENCE A PLUS

[CHUCKY] Male, Mid 40s, Caucasian. A free spirited likeable human teddy bear who sports loud vintage Hawaiian shirts. Joe’s best friend.

[BROWNING] Male. Caucasian. Small in stature. A career criminal with pockmarked skin.

[CORTEZ] Latin male. 50s. A bullishly strong street thug/criminal.

[JAKE PRESTON] Male, Mid 30s to mid 40s, Caucasian. A clean cut tough looking former cop; the no-nonsense host of the TV show “Unsolved Crimes.”

[ADULT MIA] Female, Early 20s, Caucasian. A musical prodigy on cello. Sensitive, intelligent, beautiful but humble. CELLO EXPERIENCE A PLUS.

[GRACE] Female, 50s, African American. A drug addicted nutcase in the Mobile Hospital.

[JOHNNY] Male, Mid 40s to 50s, Caucasian. A disheveled, schizophrenic man who is on the street near the Mobile Hospital unit.

[A BURLY MAN] Male, 40s, Caucasian. Muscular and serious with close-cropped hair.

[THE CHECKPOINT] Male, 40s, Open Ethnicity. A serious looking sort (probably trying to hold down two or three jobs to support his family) who is sitting at a desk in the underground parking garage.

[EDWINA BURKE] Female, Late 50s to early 60s, Caucasian, distinguished-looking. She is from Evergreen Academy where Joe attended school. She is tough, smart, and very much a lady, but a lonely one.

[SECURITY GUARD] Male, 40s to 50s, Caucasian. The guard at Evergreen Academy that patrols the grounds and takes his job a bit more seriously than he needs to.

[AMANDA PRYCE] Female, 14, Caucasian. Adrian’s younger sister. She is pretty, yet shy and a bit awkward-looking.

[YOUNG JOE DOUCETTE] Male, 17, Caucasian. A young Josh Brolin.

Lee has already responded to the latest bit of Old Boy controversy on Twitter, saying:

People You Need To Relax.The Cast Of OLD BOY Will Be Diverse.If You Think Otherwise You Do Not Know My Work.Bother Other Directors ‘Bout Dat.

The filmmaker also addressed fan concerns over the racial stereotypes mentioned in the Old Boy casting list, saying that “all that stuff has been changed.” Moreover, the themes and characters in Korean director Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (and the original Japanese manga) are partially rooted in Asian culture and history – though not so much that a respectful Americanized adaptation isn’t feasible.

josh brolin no country for old men Spike Lee Promises Old Boy Will Feature a Diverse Cast

Josh Brolin is Spike Lee’s ‘Old Boy’

Park’s film has earned a loyal cult following for its qualities as a (really) dark and harrowing examination of human nature, thanks to squirm-inducing plot twists and turns coupled with nightmarish, surreal, imagery (such as when the protagonist hallucinates ants crawling all over his body). Brolin has admitted to being nervous, but insists the script by Mark Protosevich (The Cell, Thor) offers a clever new take on that material.

That’s assuring to hear, as Lee has married filmmaking wizardry with lackluster scripts in the past; the final result has been movies that use Lee’s technical expertise as a crutch for messy storytelling (She Hate Me, Miracle at St. Anna). Old Boy is said to have a conclusion that’s even more shocking than its predecessor, so it’s all the more important that the buildup to that ending is solid.

Old Boy begins production this October in New Orleans, according to the casting sheet. We’ll let you know if that changes.


Source: Angry Asian Man

TAGS: Old Boy, Oldboy
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  1. JUST FILM THE f****** MOVIE ALREADY!! I’m so sick of hearing everybody on this talk about what its GOING to be like.

  2. Why the fuss?

    The cast list looked to me like the kind of notes an actor and crew members involved would need to know about each particular character.

    Just sounds like people getting offended when there’s nothing there to be offended by.

  3. People are so stupid. The man is casting people for certain roles. The majority of movie roles require a certain ethnicity. This is not rocket science. People complaining when there is no reason to complain.

  4. Spike’s resume speaks for himself + he gave us john turturro. nuff said

    • What do you mean he ‘gave us’ John Turturro? Turturro was in films for almost 10 years before he was in a spike lee film.

  5. Will Smith and Speilberg were going to tackle this early on? Oh man Im so thankful that didnt happen.

    My intuition tells me this remake isnt going to be as good as the original, but hey the original isnt going to get seen by the vast Western audience so might was well put something out there which is a close approximation.

    Im confident with Brolin, not sure about the rest.

    In the end if this sucks so what, I have the original that I’ll watch again and pretend the remake didnt happen. Dont know how in the world they’re gonna outshock the original movie, that was one extremely twisted ending.

  6. Gosh so stupid. But if ne one deserves this its spike.

  7. This is an American remake of the film. No need to see Asians tbh

  8. “Spike Lee is known for being a lot of things, but few (no one?) would criticize him for creating “white-washed” portraits of America throughout his films.”

    Well he’s doing it now. I thought he was supposed to be crusading for better treatment of minorities by Hollywood, not acting as their house negro.

  9. If you do not have haters,naysayers and the like…Your not werkin it.
    GO SPIKE GO!!!!!

  10. Try not to f%%% it up spike. I know its a few dollars and you’re short.

    Where’d your artistic side go anyway.


  11. Well Thor was total garbage, Josh Brolin’s assurances aside. Secondly someone said most of the roles required certain ethnicities, I wonder why anybody would believe that to be true…the original cast was not only 100% asian it was 100% Korean. There’s no requirement for any specific race or ethnic group to be represented under any role in this movie.

    Lastly, any american remake will be a shadow of the original film, will not in any way be as good, so basically a rip off. I’m sick of people ripping off ideas and saying remake, because they can’t come up with anything original themselves. And if ‘ne’ body doesn’t deserve to remake this movie, it’s Spike Lee. I refuse to watch it.

  12. WHY? WHY? This movie was so good! Why do we Americans feel the need to take a masterpiece and butcher it? Spike Lee is very talented but why couldn’t he have done something more “original” why do we keep stealing good films from overseas and dumb them down for U.S. audiences?

    • I quite agree. There’s no need to remake this classic, it’s another case of spending millions of dollars on creating the entire film from scratch just because some people are too lazy to read subtitles. I’ve heard South Korea is remaking ‘Do the Right Thing’ because they don’t like the colour of Rosie Perez’s leggings. ;P

    • WHY? WHY? The manga was so good! Why do Koreans feel the need to take a masterpiece and butcher it? Park Chan-wook is very talented but why couldn’t he have done something more “original” why do they keep stealing good comics from overseas and dumb them down for Korean audiences?

      Do you not see how retarded that sounds?

  13. So now Spike Lee is being criticized for casting white people?
    This is not the racist Spike Lee I used to know. Somehow, I think Clint
    Eastwood got to him and persuaded him to shut up and make the movie.

  14. I’m sure it really gets under Spikes racist skin that the original had an all Asian cast.

  15. So many Caucasians in this film, you’d think it was being filmed in Armenia or Georgia or something.
    Or, people are still stupid enough not to realize that “Caucasian” is not properly used as a synonym for “white people”. Just say “white” and “black” (or “European-American” and “African-American”, if you really prefer including geographic indicators) – “Caucasian” and “African-American” is just stupid, and indicative of an excessive attempt at being politically correct.
    Most white people are not from and have never been to Caucasia.

  16. this a shout out to all the so-called black film makers step up to the plate show some creativity for many years we let Hollywood make movies about the prophets in the bible noah moses jesus and Cleopatra and not show there true race these people were not Caucasian they were black as describe in the bible its a mental game they have been playing on society to show the are superior and we are not we are the foundation of the human race but were still treated like niggas and slaves no matter how much we climb up in society so black film makers step up stop making these stupid comedies thug movies and stupid relationship movies step outside the box and show the true story of the prophets