This week, Idris Elba from The Wire becomes Nelson Mandela, Simon Pegg goes on a pub crawl to end all others, and Jon Hamm heads to India in the name of baseball.
The English actor Idris Elba has had not one but two great television roles to his name. In the epochal American series The Wire he was canny drug dealer Russell “Stringer” Bell, while in his homeland he’s portrayed the obsessive police detective, Chief Inspector John Luther, in the series Luther. As is the way, film roles that didn’t really stretch the imposing actor followed, including Thor and The Losers. Now, however, Elba is in two major science-fiction films, Ridley Scott’s imminent Prometheus, where he joins Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace on the wrong planet, and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, a futuristic tribute to Japanese giant monster movies where soldiers pilot battle robots that fight Godzilla’s contemporaries.
After that Elba gets a real challenge: playing Nelson Mandela in the biopic Long Walk to Freedom. The film, which has secured the former South African President’s life rights, is to be directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl), and will follow Mandela’s life from childhood poverty to a young radical who opposed his country’s repressive apartheid system, to a figurehead who was imprisoned for decades before being released and becoming leader of the nation that had locked him up. Morgan Freeman, in Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, Sidney Poitier and Danny Glover, have already played Mandela in his later years, but Elba will have to provide the definitive portrayal of a complex man.
The success of 2004’s Shaun of the Dead and 2007’s Hot Fuzz, a pair of cluey, distinctly British, genre mash-ups written by actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright resulted in to the pair being in such demand that they couldn’t reunite for a third film. Pegg was an unlikely co-star in blockbusters such as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, while Wright went off to make Scott Pilgrim vs .the World. Finally they’re back in sync, along with rotund co-star Nick Frost, and will collaborate on The World’s End, the story of a group of middle-aged men who reunite to attempt a legendary pub crawl. Their pint-laden effort somehow becomes connected to averting the end of the world, which actually sounds plausible where Pegg and Wright are concerned.
From the very bad ideas department: Precious director Lee Daniels to remake Federico Fellini’s 1957 Italian classic Nights of Cabiria with Juliette Lewis in the leading role of a wronged but optimistic prostitute.
More big screen adjustment: ever since the role of the inscrutable Don Draper on television’s Mad Men elevated him from struggling actor to leading man, the square-jawed Jon Hamm (pictured) has been working his way through supporting movie roles large and small. He showed his comic ability in Bridesmaids and played a hardnosed FBI agent in The Town, but until now there hasn’t been a leading role. That will change with Million Dollar Arm, a drama based on the story of American sports agent J.B. Bernstein, who ran a reality show competition in cricket-mad India in 2008 to find potential baseball pitchers. Bernstein’s discoveries earnt professional contracts in America, but that was just the start of their struggle. Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) has penned the screenplay, and Hamm and Disney now need a director.