It was reported recently that Robert Rodriguez would be helming the long-gestating remake of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. Some of the rumored details about the remake have fans worried about how it will turn out, but the major concern is about who will play the lead role of Snake Plissken.
The original film is set in a future in which New York City has been converted into a massive prison. After the President goes missing within the city, the military enlists the reluctant help of infamous soldier-turned-criminal Snake Plissken to retrieve the President or die trying. Kurt Russell played Snake in the original film and his ultra-cool, tough-guy performance was a big reason the film worked so well.
Some would say no one could replace Russell in his signature role, and while he certainly made Snake an iconic anti-hero, there are plenty of actor who could do the part justice. The remake needs someone who can imbue Snake with the same qualities Russel brought to the role while also giving us something new. Here are the 15 Actors Who Could Play Snake Plissken In The Escape From New York Remake!
15 Danny Trejo
Seeing as Robert Rodriguez will be helming the remake, there’s at least chance we’ll see his good luck charm Danny Trejo take on the role of Snake.
Trejo is actually Rodriguez’s second cousin and has appeared in nearly all his films, from Desperado to Spy Kids, and of course played the title role in Machete. Beyond that, Trejo pops up in so many movies, always adding a badass quality to any project he’s a part of and looking like he keeps that quality off screen as well. He has one of the most active filmographies around and is always memorable, no matter how small his role may be.
Trejo may be a bit too old for the role, seeing as he is 72 years old, but you have to admit, he certainly doesn’t look like it. While he doesn’t regularly get those leading man roles, Machete proved he can carry a movie on his silent, tough-guy persona just fine and that’s perfect for Snake.
14 Dan Stevens
Dan Stevens hasn’t been around long, but he’s quickly been making a name for himself in Hollywood. He first came to the public’s attention on Downton Abbey and more recently he’s gained acclaim with his role on Legion. But certainly his biggest role to date was playing the Beast in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
A guy who plays in costume dramas and Disney musicals may not seem like the typical choice for a character like Snake Plissken, but he was actually considered for the part a few years ago. If you've seen Stevens in The Guest you probably know how he made it onto that shortlist. That film showed he could play the cool action leading man, while being able to infuse it with a chilling, threatening quality.
The great thing about Stevens' wide range is that he can offer a variety of new takes on the iconic character. He can portray Snake a little more heroically than the Carpenter version, or he can go a bit darker. He’s not the biggest name on this list but the film would be lucky to catch him on the rise.
13 Christian Bale
You hardly need to pitch Christian Bale for any role as he is one of the most accomplished and popular actors working today.
Bale is famous for taking on challenging roles for which he often goes through intense physical transformations. He is a true chameleon of an actor, fully embodying whichever role he takes on and playing it with immense intensity. Although he is iconic in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, he has since mostly stayed away from the blockbuster roles. However, Snake would offer him a different kind of role.
Batman gave him the chance to play the dark and intense hero, and he can certainly handle the action scenes just fine. He’s proven to be a slick killing machine in the underrated Equilibrium, but Escape from New York would be a lighter project than Bale is used to. As effective as he is in those brooding roles, it would be fun to see him be a little less serious and have fun with a broad character like Snake, while still bringing his considerable skills to the role.
12 Ryan Gosling
While some might criticize his singing skills, few can argue that Gosling sure does know how to choose great roles. That’s partly thanks to the fact that he’s a great actor who has earned his pick of the best projects.
Gosling is endlessly charming and has an unique on-screen presence. He can achieve so much without saying a word. Just look at his performance in Drive and you’ll see why he could really knock it out of the park as Snake Plisske; the cool, silent hero who is calm under pressure and can rack up a pretty big body count if pushed. But if we’re being honest, seeing Gosling give a different take on Snake, more akin to his role in The Nice Guys would be a blast.
Despite his heartthrob status, Gosling has proven he’s one of the great actors of his generation, with incredible range in his performances. There’s so many ways he could deliver a memorable new version of Snake, and as a bonus, he’s getting sci-fi practice with Blade Runner 2049.
11 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Snake may be the man who saves the day, but he’s far from an ideal hero. He’s a criminal, a killer, and cares only for saving his own skin. The remake has the opportunity to explore the line Snake walks between hero and villain, much like Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
When audiences first met Jamie, he was pushing a child out a window and immediately became one of the show’s most hated characters. Since then, however, he has undergone an incredible character arc to become someone we root for and even admire for his heroism. And yet, every now and then, he does something that reminds us he is a twisted, complicated character. If Coster-Waldau is given the chance to bring some of that duality to the role of Snake, it could make for a very complex anti-hero to root for.
Coster-Waldau hasn’t appeared in a lot of films and the less said about Gods of Egypt the better, but any fan of Game of Thrones knows he’s due for a Hollywood breakout. Also, his upcoming role in Netflix’s film Small Crimes, looks to great opportunity to prove his leading man potential.
10 Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt went from schlubby supporting actor on a sitcom to being one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men, and it’s not hard to see why. Pratt is an incredibly charismatic presence and has an undeniable likability to him.
Pratt cemented his superstar status playing Peter Quill, aka Starlord, in Marvel’s megahit Guardians of the Galaxy. As Quill, Pratt created one of those great swashbuckling, cocky, and cool heroes who would have done Snake Plissken proud. He also added a lovable goof quality to the part that made him that much more appealing. Since then, Pratt has perfected his smooth-talking rogue persona in films like Jurassic World and The Magnificent Seven.
There’s no doubt that Pratt is high on the list of the studio’s choices for Snake and it’s hard to argue he would be pretty ideal for the part. His "too cool” act is at risk of getting a little tiresome, but if Pratt is able to bring some of his own humor into the role, it could make for a really entertaining hero. Plus, with Kurt Russell playing his father in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he could get some tips from the original Snake.
9 Jason Statham
If you’re looking for a stone-faced, one-line dropping ass-kicker to lead an action film, why look anywhere else than Jason Statham?
The Brit actor got his start in Guy Ritchie films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, but after starring in The Transporter, he quickly became a new breed of action stars in the 21st century. Though he is one of the most established action stars working today, Statham has mostly stuck to smaller scale films like Crank and The Mechanic and bigger ensembles like The Expendables and Fate and the Furious. It’s time Statham got his own big-budget franchise to cause some mayhem in.
After seeing how funny Statham could be in Spy, it would be nice to see him to continue to stretch his skills a little, but Snake is the kind of role he could play in his sleep. Maybe if the character was made a little more complex, it could give Statham a real opportunity to shine.
8 Kit Harrington
Coster-Waldau’s Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harrington is also yet to huge impact on the big screen, but his success on the hit show certainly makes him a household name. Snake Plissken could be the role that helps him be seen as more than just Jon Snow.
When Game of Thrones first started, Harrington got a lot of criticism for appearing somewhat limited in his acting compared to his more established co-stars. As the character of Jon Snow has become more central to the story and a more interesting character overall, Harrington’s talents have been shining through more and more each season, even garnering an Emmy nomination for season 6. Harrington has that silent, brooding intensity that is so important for Snake and he’s proven to be an action star in the making, being at the center of Game of Thrones’ biggest battles.
As Game of Thrones nears its end, Harrington will be looking for a way to get out from under the shadow of the cultural behemoth. Leading an action film like this and taking on a character like Snake, which plays to his strengths, could be the key to making that transition.
7 Emily Blunt
When looking to recast an action movie icon like Snake Plissken and replace at '80s action star like Kurt Russell, you need to look at today’s modern action stars. At the top of that list sits Emily Blunt.
You might not have guessed it from the beginning of her career in roles like The Devil Wears Prada, but Blunt has shaped up to be one of Hollywood’s best butt-kickers. She held her own in Sicario and made Tom Cruise look like a wimp by comparison in Edge of Tomorrow. Though she missed out on playing Black Widow in the MCU, it’s about time Bunt got her own big action film. She certainly can pull off the “don’t mess with me” attitude and would be completely believable fighting her way through a desolate New York.
Blunt brings a real sense of authenticity to whatever roles she’s taking, no matter how big and bombastic they may be. This quality could really help to ground some of the more outrageous aspects of the story.
6 Hugh Jackman
Snake Plissken is a lone wolf who doesn’t play well with others. He has a problem with authority and though his job is often violent, he’s the best at what he does. Sound familiar? Why not give the role to an actor who has been playing a similar role for most of his career?
Hugh Jackman has just come off the best performance of his career with the farewell to his signature character in the massive hit, Logan. And though he might not be so inclined to jump into another franchise, he would make an excellent Snake. We haven’t seen Jackman take on any real badass characters outside of Wolverine. If the studio is willing to go R-rated on this remake, Jackman could have a blast with the role.
Logan proved he’s still in top physical condition and watching him take on a city full of crazed goons would be an absolute delight. Sure, he deserves to kick back and play donut-eating characters for the rest of his career, but if he is up for kicking some more butt, Snake would be a great character for him.
5 Chris Pine
Chris Pine is one of those actors who doesn’t get enough credit for his acting chops. It could be his good looks or the fact that he appears in a lot of tentpole films, but Pine's consistency in all his roles is under-appreciated.
While his involvement in the Star Trek series and the upcoming Wonder Woman will probably put him on many studios’ lists of leading men, it’s his smaller films that prove he can make a great Snake Plissken. In the Best Picture nominee, Hell or High Water, Pine showed he can play the silent criminal with a conscience while still being threatening when necessary.
Of course, his star-making turn as James T. Kirk is a great example of how Pine can pull off the cool swagger that Snake needs. While he’s appeared in plenty of big films, it would be nice to see Pine given the chance to carry a film on his own while also delivering another solid performance.
4 Timothy Olyphant
Timothy Olyphant hasn’t had much success on the big screen, and his roles in films like Hitman don’t suggest he could do Snake Plissken justice, but anyone who has seen his television work knows he is near-perfect for the role.
One of the coolest aspects of Snake Plissken in the original film was how Kurt Russell played him with the kind of cowboy swagger that Clint Eastwood was known for in his Westerns. Olyphant is no slouch in the Western department either. He starred as Seth Bullock in Deadwood, where he convincingly played one of the toughest guys in a town full of tough guys. But his best role is easily as Raylan Givens in the criminally underrated neo-Western Justified. As Givens, Olyphant was always the coolest guy on screen without looking like he was even trying. Be it tough-talking bad guys, getting into a scrap, or having an old-fashioned showdown, Olyphant perfected that cowboy quality. He may not be the biggest box office draw, but if the film want an effortlessly cool leading man, Olyphant can pull it off.
3 Chadwick Bosman
While he’s relatively new to the big screen, Chadwick Boseman has taken on an extraordinary amount of iconic roles. He broke onto the scene playing Jackie Robinson in 42; then went on to play the godfather of soul, James Brown, in Get on Up; and of course, joined the all-powerful MCU as Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. It’s safe to say that he can handle the pressure of taking on a popular character like Snake.
The career Boseman has cultivated in such a short time is very impressive. Though he’s still a new face to many in the audience, Boseman's able to bring an immense amount of gravitas to each of his roles. He also is quite effective at giving off that cool and stoic hero vibe with few words needed. His Black Panther nearly stole the whole movie from some very big heroes despite his sparse dialogue, so there’s little doubt he can carry a movie as the strong-yet-silent Snake. And with the release of the Black Panther solo film, Boseman will be certainly have a strong fan following of his own.
2 Wyatt Russell
Kurt Russell was iconic in the role of Snake Plissken. Sure, it would be fun to see him take on the role again, but he’s an older man and that de-aging technology isn’t cheap. What’s the next-best thing to a young Kurt Russell? How about Kurt Russell’s son?
That’s right, Kurt Russell has a son who is an actor, and it just so happens that he is a very good actor. Wyatt Russell was a professional hockey player who hung up his skates to join the family business and has been building a solid filmography in a few short years. He has turned in scene-stealing performances in 22 Jump Street and Everybody Wants Some!! He has a more “loveable stoner” quality to him rather than his dad’s tough guy persona, but he's lining up some more diverse roles, like in the J.J Abrams-produced, Overlord. He gave an excellent leading performance in the Black Mirror episode “Play Test”, and played an unhinged villain in Goon: Last of the Enforcers
Wyatt’s star is on the rise and it’s only a matter of time before he stars iconic roles like his father. While there’s no replacing the elder Russell as Snake, Wyatt would surely do his father proud.
1 Oscar Isaac
Is it okay if we give Oscar Isaac all the film roles at this point?
Isaac is probably best known for his part in the new Star Wars trilogy as a charismatic rogue, Poe Dameron, and though that is certainly his biggest role to date, he’s been turning in fantastic performances for a while now. With recent roles in Inside Llewyn Davis and the excellent sci-fi film Ex Machina, people are finally starting to realize that Isaac is one of the best actors working today. It’s only a matter of time before Hollywood starts throwing more franchises at him. And even though he could do many of them justice, he seems born to play Snake Plissken.
Although Snake might seem like a different kind of role for Isaac, he’s shown he can handle all of the most important aspects of the character. He demonstrated his hostile attitude toward society in general as Llewyn Davis, he showed his criminal side in Drive and, of course, his heroic side as Poe Dameron. There’s so much more that he could bring to the role and seeing an actor of Oscar Isaac’s caliber heading an action picture like this would be an epic movie experience.
What do you think of our picks to play Snake Plissken in Escape From New York? Do you have other suggestions? Share them in the comments!