Frank Darabont's Fahrenheit 451 Suffers Another Setback - Tom Hanks Drops Out
Writer/director Frank Darabont is a pretty cool guy. Despite The Mist underselling at the box office (even thought it's a great, well-regarded flick), his 1994 Shawshank Redemption has pretty much assumed its rightful place in history. In fact, last year it was added to AFI's Top 100 list. Darabont's next project, an adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, which is based on the popular 1953 novel of the same name, is expected to perform on a similar level as Redemption (if not better), given its weighty, societal themes. Tom Hanks' reported involvement initially had this project tracking pretty well, but we learn via MTV that the multi-award-winning actor has dropped out of the project.
Fahrenheit 451 was actually turned into a major film in 1966, and that version currently holds an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; acclaimed French filmmaker François Truffaut directed that one. A modern-day rendering of the novel has been in the works for quite some time. Darabont actually got his hands on the project back in 2001, but various reasons have delayed production from starting. Now the project suffers loosing its lead.
Darabont told MTV, "Mr. Hanks sadly and regretfully had to back out. I was really looking forward to working with him again but his other commitments just precluded it. He had to take a step back." Hanks and Darabont previously worked together on The Green Mile as well.
With the gravity of the story, there are only so many actors that can carry such a film. Hanks is certainly one of those candidates. I wonder whom Darabont has in mind next? I hope he moves quickly considering the author's comment last year. "Fahrenheit 451 is more relevant today than [when] it was published 50 years ago. George [W.] Bush has made this the most relevant piece of literature ever written."
Darabont illuminates this remark a bit further: "One character in the script says, 'It's not really even about books. It's about control.' It's about the control of government and authority. It's one of the greatest books ever written. It's got all that great political stuff underneath the skin of it but really what it is is a great galloping tale."
I really hope this latest development is just a bump in the road and project recovers quickly. While the story escaped me in school, it sounds riveting. "The novel presents a future in which all books are restricted, individuals are anti-social and hedonistic, and critical thought is suppressed. The central character, Guy Montag [who Hanks would have played], is employed as a 'fireman' (which, in this future, means 'book burner'). The number '451' refers to the temperature (in Fahrenheit) at which a book or paper auto-ignites."
Darabont sums his predicament up pretty concisely, however: "[The lead] needs to be somebody like [Hanks] who has the ability to trigger a greenlight but is also the right guy for the part. It's a narrow target. It's a short list of people."
Who do you think would a good replacement for the character Guy Montag?