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Frank Darabont's Fahrenheit 451 Suffers Another Setback - Tom Hanks Drops Out

by
March 29, 2008
Source: MTV

Fahrenheit 451

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?

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Reader Feedback - 17 Comments

1

That's pretty sad news but I have a lot of confidence in Frank Darabont! It's hard to cast a role when you haven't read the screenplay, but just to throw a few names out there, aside from my favorites Bale and Depp - Leonardo Dicaprio or Matt Damon could be interesting. I'm playing with the idea of Bruce Willis a bit too. He got to show a more versatile side in Unbreakable and Sixth Sense so depending on how Darabont chooses to interpret Guy Montag, I think Willis might be able to pull it off. Also, Adrien Brody would be very interesting in a Darabont-project!

Andreas Climent on Mar 29, 2008

2

I just finished teaching this book to my 10th-grade English Honors students. I like the idea of Christian Bale in the role, and could easily picture him conveying all of the necessary nuances of Montag's internal struggles between the life he thought he understood, and the one that takes hold of his newly-questioning mind. Willis definitely has the chops for it, but (dare I even say it?) he, like Hanks, to be honest, is beyond the age that I've always felt Montag needed to be in order for him still to be capable of restarting his entire outlook on the world. As much as I consistently enjoy Damon's work, he just too darn pretty for it... 😉 Now, it sure is easy to pick apart someone else's ideas, but I'm stuck for anything original of my own to contribute at the moment. Heck, since he's jiggying his way through the classic sci-fi pantheon, why not toss Will Smith into this one, too? (Sorry; couldn't help myself) Is James McAvoy too young, do you think? I can kind of picture Hugh Jackman as well. Ooh, what about Nathan Fillion?

Scotty B. on Mar 29, 2008

3

Personally I am greatly relieved that TOM HANKS has left the picture. What a mistake that would have been. Hanks should stick to fluff, because its all he's really good at unless he's in a supporting role. He's also too old. Good possibilities to cast: (NOT MATT DAMON, NOT TOM CRUISE PLEASE!) Matthew Fox Robert Patrick Owen Wilson Jude Law Clive Owen Sean Patrick Flanery Ryan Gosling Edward Norton Leo DeCaprio wants to do BRAVE NEW WORLD not 451 (can't do Christian Bale, he's already done his '451' see "EQUILIBRIUM") Jeez...no action stars please, Willis...come on...

Mike on Mar 29, 2008

4

One of my favorite novels and he wants to make it into a Bush Derangement Syndrome movie. Control of what exactly? Show me the detention camps where Bush has placed Darabont's compatriots? In the age of the internet when everyone, including this nit, is free to say anything they please, he is going to butcher a great story to make a film based on his whacko personal political prejudices. Another bomb in the making.

yeahright on Mar 30, 2008

5

When you say it is "expected to perform on a similar level as Redemption (if not better)" where are you getting that info? It sounds like it came from a press release. 451 is an iconic book that, despite having a great director attached the first time around, never made as strong a mark as it could have. I think it lives well to this day because high school classes show it. Truffaut was a great director as many film enthusiasts can tell you. Darabont has a spotty record. Let's be optimistic folks. No point in jumping the gun on a film that's been in developmental hell for a long time.

Charlie on Mar 30, 2008

6

Great book! Read it in high school! Frank Darabont is an excellent director and in my opinion, he did a great job with "The Mist". Maybe Tom Hank's departure was for the best. Things always happen for a reason. Mike (post #3) lists some pretty interesting choices. I recall reading a while back that Mel Gibson was in talks to star in this flick. I can picture Gibson in this role---that could also be pretty interesting.I just really hope the producers select the right guy----this will be very crucial to the success of this flick.

Spider on Mar 30, 2008

7

Am I alone in thinking Will Smith could pull this off? He's as good, if not better, actor than most of the other ones people are naming. And unlike most of them he's a big enough star to get an automatic greenlight for anything he signs on to. As good an actor as Clive Owen is, no one's lining up around the block to see his films.

kevjohn on Mar 31, 2008

8

Come to think of it kevjohn(post #7), Clive Owen would be a great choice too. If chosen, this could be the role that propels him to superstardom.

Spider on Mar 31, 2008

9

My pick is another frequent Frank Darabont collaborator: Thomas Jane. Of course, they'll probably want a bigger box office draw than that. Ryan Gosling wouldn't be a bad choice. And I'm thinking Gene Hackman and Ian Holm for Beatty and Faber, respectively.

McAlister on Apr 2, 2008

10

I remember reading Fahrenheit for the first time in high school, around the time that the computer game Privateer 2 came out. At the time I thought the star of the game's FMV cut scenes, Clive Owen, would make a perfect Guy Montag, but it would never happen because here he was, starring in video game cut scenes. Ten years later... Though I gotta admit, Edward Norton would be pretty good too.

bikewobble on Jun 12, 2008

11

"...why not toss Will Smith into this one, too? (Sorry; couldn't help myself)" Oh dear God, why would you wish for such a desecration of another science fiction literary classic? First "I Robot" and then "I am Legend"; let's not do such a terrible thing to Bradbury. I'm not saying I don't like Will Smith, because I do. But whenever he's attached to such a project it seems to get dumbed down and tested against a barometer that measures the film's success in terms of how many warm bodies can fill the seats of the theaters on opening weekend, and not necessarily concerned with honoring the book. Sorry about the rant, but I hope you're making a bad joke. McAlister, I totally dig your choices! And I can't believe someone else actually picked the exact selections I made for two other important characters: "And I'm thinking Gene Hackman and Ian Holm for Beatty and Faber, respectively." Montag needs to be portrayed by a sensitive actor in his thirties or someone who can pull off portraying a character in his thirties. Back in the day I would have listed Gary Oldman, Daniel Day Lewis, Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis, but unfortunately the window of opportunity has shut for them. My suggestions for this generation's F451 in no particular order: Christian Bale Edward Norton Jude Law Johnny Depp Ryan Gosling Ewan McGregor Guy Pierce I certainly wouldn't mind seeing Darabont's list of alternate choices.

Johnny on Jun 20, 2008

12

Daniel Day Lewis Edward Norton Guy Pearce for Guy Gary Oldman Willem Dafoe for Beatty Emily Browning

Geneva on Jun 24, 2009

13

Emily Browning for Clarisse Jennifer Garner Renee Zelweger(?) for Mildred

Geneva on Jun 24, 2009

14

Channing Tatum-Guy Montag Willem Dafoe-Beatty Milla Jovovich-Mildred Kat Dennings-Clarrise he has to be young clive owen is to old and so is many of the other actors channing tatum needs a good break, guy montag is supposed to be like 30 willem dafoe is good at being a mysterious, knowledgable Milla Jovovich is a good up and coming actress

Logan on Aug 3, 2009

15

Sharlto Copley (District 9) as Guy Montag Willem Dafoe sounds good as Beatty Milla Jovavich sounds like a good Mildred Emily Browning would be a good Clarisse (maybe the girl who plays Hemione in Harry Potter)

New Actor on Feb 17, 2010

16

Matt Damon. That's who I would cast for a role like this. He usually plays the "down on his luck" guy, who ends up persevering in the end. Or maybe Jim carrey... His face was in my mind while I was reading the book. And I feel he is at a perfect time in his career for a role like montag.

Jcwangner on May 1, 2011

17

The best thing about the first movie, aside from the last 15 minutes or so, was Oscar Werner. The move wasn't spectacular, and has aged horribly, but someone with that kind of detached look and feel but inside something boiling. Norton could pull it off, his age is problem. The really good choices are all too old. Hackman as Beatty is great. Sean Connery as Faeber?

Jrrartist on May 16, 2011

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