Steven Soderbergh In Talks To Direct ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ [Updated]

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 1:26 am,

Update: We now have more details on the status of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, including that George Clooney may be starring in the lead role. See below for details.

Back in April we reported on the news that Warner Bros. was finally moving forward with The Man from U.N.C.L.E., its new movie version of the classic 1960s TV series, with relative newcomer Max Borenstein writing the script and David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) directing.

Despite the film gaining speed this year, a movie of U.N.C.L.E. has been in development (hell) as far back as the mid 1990s. There’s no telling why it’s taken this long to finally get this project into production, but alas here we are. The Hollywood Reporter has the news that WB has made a bold move by bringing on Steven Soderbergh to direct and Scott Z. Burns to write the script.

The inclusion of Dobkin and Borenstein suggested that WB’s version of U.N.C.L.E. would be more comedic than serious, but now that Soderbergh and Burns seem to be coming onboard, we may have a more serious movie on our hands – more Miami Vice than Starsky & Hutch, perhaps.

There’s no word why WB is changing writers and directors so drastically. THR reports that the studio thought Borenstein’s script was strong but have decided to hand the project to Burns for a rewrite. Dobkin will now act as producer on the project instead of director, along with John Davis (I, Robot, AVP).

The Man From UNCLE movie Steven Soderbergh In Talks To Direct The Man From U.N.C.L.E. [Updated]

For those of you unfamiliar, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a spy series that ran on NBC from 1964 to 1968. It followed two secret agents, Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (played by David McCallum), who work for a secret international law enforcement agency known as the “United Network Command For Law and Enforcement” or U.N.C.L.E. They battled against an organization known as T.H.R.U.S.H. or “Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity”, who wanted to take over the world.

Soderbergh is certainly an interesting choice to direct the U.N.C.L.E. adaptation. He’s one of those directors who seems to be able to bounce between deep and serious dramas like Traffic and Solaris, and light and fun movies such as The Informant! and the Ocean’s trilogy, without compromising on quality.

Soderbergh is also a busy man, with two star-studded movies coming out next year: Haywire (previously entitled Knockout) starring Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender and Ewan McGregor; and Contagion starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne.

Burns is a diverse Hollywood writer, with past credits including The Bourne Ultimatum and Soderbergh’s  The Informant! and Contagion (last we heard, Burns is also writing the script for David Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake). If both men get the gig, I think it’s safe to assume Soderbergh and Burns have a good working relationship, since U.N.C.L.E. would be their third collaboration.

U.N.C.L.E. is, of course, just one of many old TV shows to get the 21st century movie treatment. It’s a spy story not too dissimilar to the James Bond franchise (in fact, Bond creator Ian Fleming supposedly had a hand in creating U.N.C.L.E.) – could this adaptation follow in the more serious footsteps of the revitalized Bond franchise? Considering Burns was one of the writers of the third Bourne film (a franchise that gave Bond a serious wake-up call) I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine U.N.C.L.E. taking on that same badass mentality.

UPDATE: The Playlist has managed to dig up some more info on U.N.C.L.E. They are reporting from “sources close to the director” that long-time Soderbergh collaborator George Clooney is in talks to star in the lead role. If Clooney was ultimately cast it would be the seventh time he will have worked with Soderbergh after Out of Sight, the Ocean’s trilogy, Solaris and The Good German.

There’s word that this may be Soderbergh and Clooney’s last film together and maybe even his last as director in general (after Haywire and Contagion) as he’s been talking about early retirement for quite a while now. That would certainly be a big loss for the world of movies.

We are reminded that despite U.N.C.L.E. gaining traction, the project is still in the very early stages. However, WB chief Jeff Robinov has given the thumbs up to Soderbergh’s take on the project which would keep things set in the ’60s as opposed to modernizing it as some may have speculated.

There’s also a plan to scrap all the existing scripts for the project – including the original one written by Borenstein – which would mean that Burns would start a brand new script from scratch instead of rewriting an existing one. The words “take back U.N.C.L.E. to its roots” are being thrown around.

The plan is for Soderbergh to shoot The Man From U.N.C.L.E. at the end of next year, although it’s said the plan is still to shoot Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic in mid-to-late 2011. He’s currently filming Contagion, which is due out on October 21st, 2011, and his action film Haywire is set to hit theaters sometimes in 2011.

Source: THR and The Playlist

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  1. Oh wow. Yet another remake. Shocking.


    I think I may have had a psychotic break. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

    • It’s funny to see a young David McCallum :)

      DSB, they wont ever end :( Hollywood shows NO respect for any type of classic TV shows OR Films.

  2. Gotta pay the bills, I reckon. You’d think those “Ocean” films would have been enough of a financial security blanket …

  3. The only two guys that should be writing the script are scribes Bob Short and Danny Biederman. They know the series inside out! Will Hollywood ever learn to go to the source? I think not! The well they draw from is dry.

  4. i like it….bring it!
    i was a big fan of the series, and the way you have presented it, i say yes.
    if it were being made like “get smart”, i would say pass, but, if it’s put together like the bourne series, this could be a tentpole project.

  5. Clooney….bah…trainwreck, at least for me it is.

  6. yawn more remakes..

  7. I thought Soderburgh was quitting after that cleopatra movie.

  8. boring show gets a boring director woo hoo let me guess clooney and pitt

  9. I would love to see this kept set in the 1960s, and NOT updated. That is where U.N.C.L.E. belongs. I beg them not to do an update like “Mission Impossible.” Those are horrible as “remakes.” The “Mission Impossible” films were not remakes at all. They were just action vehicles and could have been titled anything. Updating destroys the essence of the being. It’s like saying the current Batman films are “updates” of the Adam West TV series. They’re two different animals.

    Keep the humor purely tongue in cheek as in the first season, not farcical as in season three. Daniel Craig’s “Casino Royale,” over Peter Seller’s version, if you know what I mean. No slapstick. No cheese. No two by fours smacking Illya in the head. Please don’t destroy the fond memories of my childhood.

    My thought on casting: Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Reid, on “Criminal Minds”) to play Illya Kuryakin. He’d have to cut the hair and maybe beef up a bit, but he favors David McCallum and can act.

    I think bringing the original actors into the movie in some capacity would be a nice tribute to the fans of the original show, but, in what capacity, I don’t know. I thought about Robert Vaughn or David McCallum as Alexander Waverly, but… not sure. They need to be in there somewhere, even if just a cameo scene in the “Mask Club.” I could see a nightclub scene with Vaughn and McCallum each squiring an actress who played on the show. Wouldn’t it be great to see Senta Berger or Nancy Kovack Mehti back in a cameo? Maybe even Stefanie Powers and Noel Harrison in a role. Speaking of which – maybe Harrison as Waverly? He has that affable but curmudgeonly British look, nowadays.

    If they would consult with Danny Biederman (who owns a lot of the original props) and Robert Short (who owns the original U.N.C.L.E. Piranha car) and who both understand and love the show as we original fans do, it would be a HUGE source of help in capturing the feel of the show. If set in the 60s, I can see U.N.C.L.E. “upgrading” the communicators for the field agents from the cigarette pack communicator to the pen communicator in one scene.

    I hope they keep the first season music for this film. Excellent score. Can’t be beat. That drum intro and “march-like” quality to the rest of the theme sets the pace for the action.

    Keeping my fingers crossed. Sounds like Soderbergh is on the right track.

  10. I remember Steven from BR and Uhigh, My older sister Amy went out on a formal date with Steven. My mom always said Steven was such a sweet boy.

  11. iF IT’S LIKE AND BASED ON THE ORIGINAL ,it could be alot of fun ,also if they keep it Clean it could be a smash for all the family, But I doubt it, I am sure when they get their hands on it they will spice it up …SHAME….