It's not an exaggeration to say that fans of the PlayStation 3 video game franchise Uncharted have continued to express their concern for director David O. Russell's re-imagined take on their beloved treasure hunter, Nathan Drake.
Back in November, Mark Wahlberg confirmed that he would be stepping into Drake's shoes but, considering the Uncharted film is barely a gleam in Russell's eye at this point, is it possible that we could see a different actor step into the role? Maybe even fan-favorite Nathan Fillion?
Recently, YouTube user gregblessing27, caught up with Russell after a screening for the director's critically acclaimed true-life-boxer-story The Fighter - confronting the director about the choice of Mark Wahlberg and championing the benefits of recasting Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) in the part - ie. "He acts exactly like that dude (Nathan Drake). He has all these little subtleties."
While some outlets have poked fun at the awkward exchange, especially given Russell's history of flaring tempers, there's one moment in the video that, in our opinion could carry some weight - look for it at the 0:18 mark:
Certainly "gregblessing27" isn't the most reliable source of information (as Screen Rant reader "Capthca" points out - several of the "subtitles" in the video are inaccurate) but what's intriguing here is Russell and Co.'s reaction to the mention of Fillion. While it's hard to imagine that Russell hasn't even heard of Nathan Fillion, especially given the growing rancor among fans of the series, it's certainly interesting to hear that someone close to Russell (who gregblessing27 claims is Russell's agent) has "sent" FireFly DVDs (which the video mistakenly claims are "audition DVDs") to the director. Whether that "sent" means "sent and already thrown in the trash" or "sent and waiting to be watched" is certainly up for debate.
The rest of the footage shows that Russell isn't exactly enthusiastic about Nathan Fillion, "You know, if they want to put someone in there that's not a big deal... I hear you." But he does end the conversation, "Point taken." It may not be much, and certainly Russell was rushing to get out of there but it's certainly possible that, facing enough fan-opposition, the studio, director, or Walhberg himself, may rethink the casting decision.
Video game adaptations are certainly a tricky business - even for Hollywood. The films have to strike a balance between getting fans of the franchise energized enough to spread the word to unfamiliar moviegoers - while still carrying enough Hollywood heft (ie Mark Wahlberg) to allow the movie to stand apart from the game.
For a lot of fans, the problem with Russell's film, at this point, is both the lead actor and the story are rather large departures from the source material - so, aside from the name, what's to get excited about?
However, with the recent announcement of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, as well as the reveal that the game will include a "mysterious deception about Drake’s very identity" and focus on Drake's partner-in-crime Victor "Sully" Sullivan - it's worth speculating how much unrevealed information David O. Russell might know about the direction of the franchise.
Consider the quote from Wahlberg regarding David O. Russell's vision of the Uncharted world:
“I’m obviously in whatever David wants to do but the idea of ['Uncharted'] is so off the charts: De Niro being my father, Pesci being my uncle. It’s not going to be the watered-down version, that’s for sure.”
The Uncharted movie does not have a release date and is very much in the early stages of production so, without question, we'll probably see a lot of changes. Given the momentum Sony has going with the Uncharted franchise, the game publisher/movie production house cannot afford to see Nathan Drake turned into Max Payne, especially considering the next video game installment, Max Payne 3, has been repeatedly delayed, whereas Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is already one of the most highly anticipated titles of 2011.
Will the growing rancor around the casting of Mark Wahlberg be enough to cause David O. Russell to consider recasting the part - and give Fillion a real Uncharted audition DVD? Time will certainly tell.