Earlier this week, the 2001 crime thriller Training Day officially became one of the most recent entries on the list of films being adapted for TV when CBS ordered a pilot based on the property. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Training Day starred Denzel Washington as corrupt narcotics detective Alonzo Harris, a man willing to do absolutely anything and take out absolutely anyone to accomplish his twisted vision of justice. Along for Harris’ ride was idealistic rookie cop Jake Hoyt, a man of principle and faith in the law. The two officers clash repeatedly, with things ultimately leading to a life or death showdown in the streets of LA. The film was both a critical and commercial darling, earning Washington a Best Actor Oscar win and Hawke a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Functioning as both a reboot of the basic premise and a belated sequel to the film, Warner Bros.’ Training Day TV series is being spearheaded by prolific producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Fuqua himself, with the latter on board to direct the pilot as well. The script for the adaptation is being penned by Will Beall, writer of the 2013 crime flick Gangster Squad, and a former LAPD detective in his own right. While Gangster Squad wasn’t exactly a huge hit, having an actual ex-cop writing the screenplay for Training Day the series is a good omen as far as the project retaining the film’s sense of gritty authenticity.
With most of the film-to-TV translations that have come out thus far, the common practice has been to feature an all new cast recreating the film’s premise, sometimes even recasting characters originated by different actors in the movie(s) the show is based on. With the recent exception of Bradley Cooper in Limitless, it’s a rarity for an adaptation to bring back major on-screen players from the film, especially playing the same character they played previously. That’s what makes today’s news all the more surprising. According to recent reports, Ethan Hawke is in talks to reprise his Jake Hoyt role in the Training Day TV series, with the intent of him acting as a recurring member of the cast.
The plot of Training Day the series is basically a modified racial flip of the movie’s storyline, centering on a idealistic young black cop named Kyle who is assigned to take down a corrupt white detective named Frank by infiltrating the elite LAPD unit that Frank oversees and gaining the rogue officer’s trust. If he ends up signing on, Hawke’s Jake Hoyt will serve as the now-deputy chief of police, and the man who entrusts Kyle with this exceedingly dangerous undercover mission. Interestingly enough, there was reportedly an alternate version of the script that cast Hoyt in the corrupt veteran cop role, but Hawke wasn’t interested in playing a lead on the series.
Will Training Day the series measure up to the film that spawned it? It’s hard to say, as shows like The Shield and The Sopranos have made it clear that TV is up to the task of being as good as just about any big-screen crime drama. The biggest question right now — assuming Hawke agrees to return as Hoyt — is just who will be cast as Kyle and Frank. Both characters will have the shadow of Alonzo and Jake hanging over their head from episode one, and if CBS chooses the wrong actors, the whole enterprise may end up dead on arrival.
The Training Day TV series has received a pilot order, but has yet to enter production.