Talks are currently underway with The Maze Runner star Dylan O'Brien to play the lead role of counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp in the movie adaptation of Vince Flynn's bestselling novel American Assassin. The book, and its subsequent sequels, have been New York Times bestsellers, with the three most recent entries reaching No. 1 on the New York Times charts. The series has sold nearly 20 million copies to date.
With numbers like that, it's clear American Assassin has been ripe for adaptation since before Flynn died in 2013, but little progress had been made until now. The role of Rapp was up in the air since 2012 when Chris Hemsworth was originally considered for the role, but ultimately passed due to scheduling conflicts. At around the same time, Bruce Willis was in talks for the role of Rapp's mentor, but that never panned out either.
In fact, the first solid casting decision wasn't made until March 2016, when Oscar nominee Michael Keaton was cast as Stan Hurley, a Cold War veteran who takes the young Rapp under his wing. O'Brien as the film's ostensible protagonist now suggests production on the film will get underway very soon.
For those unfamiliar with the series, American Assassin will follow Rapp as he is indoctrinated into the world of black ops counterterrorism soon after losing his fiancée in a terrorist attack. Hurley takes on the task of training the would-be assassin, as the two venture far and wide, eventually working together in an effort to prevent World War III from erupting in the Middle East.
Marking O'Brien's first major non-YA role, American Assassin is sure to be a huge career move for the young actor, whose most well-known roles have seen the 24-year-old playing a teenager (The Maze Runner, Teen Wolf). Deadline reports that CBS and Lionsgate hope for this film to be the start of a franchise, with O'Brien aging along with the story as (hopefully) more films are made. Either way, ruthless assassin is a new look on the actor, and with such a large built-in fanbase from the books, the role of Rapp is sure to introduce him to a bigger and more diverse demographic than even the commercially successful young adult Maze Runner franchise.
Production on American Assassin is scheduled to begin in the fall, which is good news as it sounds as though the film will be able to work around O’Brien’s ongoing recovery from injuries suffered while shooting Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
We'll bring you more information on American Assassin as it becomes available.