Last month, Sony's long-awaited video game adaptation Uncharted finally started moving in the right direction when Shawn Levy came aboard to direct from Joe Carnahan's script. The studio still hasn't set a new release date, but Shawn Levy revealed during a recent interview that shooting will start this coming summer. Here's what he had to say, revealing how he's been interested in this project for several years, while reiterating Joe Carnahan's earlier statements that Nathan Drake is most certainly not Indiana Jones.
"I've been interested in this project for years. I've played and loved every iteration of the game. I think it's largely a popularly accepted notion that it's as cinematic a game as we've had, maybe ever, certainly of late. And it's cinematic in that it's not only wildly visual, but it's really rooted in character and a very specific tone and a sense of fun, right? When is the last great, fun, fucking action-dynamic, treasure-hunting movie? Right? It's not Indiana Jones, it's not National Treasure; it's very specific, it's all kind of anchored in Nathan's tone. So I've been interested in it, and I've just been quietly letting people know I've been interested in it, but other people have been involved, I've been busy, and a moment finally appeared recently where I was like, 'Me! Okay, me!' Sony and the producers involved were like, 'Yeah, that actually makes perfect sense.' I'm like, 'Yeah! That's what I've been saying for a little while.' I am unabashedly thrilled to be making that next year. Yes, that's my next project. Normally, as a director, you're attached to something-I know of at least one director in this room-it's like, the dance we always do is, 'Oh, I'm attached to this,' and then you look at my IMDb page and it looks like I'm making 19 movies. Uncharted, I am not messing around. I am so committed to this thing and I'm in it on the script level with Joe Carnahan, who knows what he's doing; that's been a really frickin' fun collaboration. I'm definitely not filming before March. The goal is to film in the late spring, early summer."
The movie has been in various forms of development for the past six years, with Mark Wahlberg attached to play Nathan Drake at one point for director David O. Russell. Other directors such as Neil Burger (Divergent) and Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses) have come and gone, with Chris Pratt even passing on the project back in 2014. Shawn Levy said that he has no shortage of fan-casting suggestions through Twitter. While he said he won't actually base the casting of Nathan Drake on Twitter suggestions, perhaps they may come true, if enough people suggest a certain actor.
"I've been pitched everyone. God bless you, Twitter, but I made a joke that, 'You're saving me the money of hiring a casting director, Twitter,' because from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to Oscar Isaac, [Nathan] Fillion, everyone that you would, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Chris Pine, I mean the suggestions are... It's every actor who is ruggedly handsome, which is to say every movie star, and who looks anything like the square-jawed, chiseled-featured Drake. I'm not actually going to base my casting on Twitter suggestions. Maybe I've even said the name in this room; who knows? Eventually, if people keep suggesting ideas and actors, one of them will prove to be true. We're very hard at work on the script right now."
Joe Carnahan came aboard to write the the script in late July, revealing he wouldn't direct due to his involvement with Bad Boys For Life. Shawn Levy also teased a brief "Twitter war" he got into with Joe Carnahan, because the writer was too busy tweeting about NFL football, instead of working on the script. Here's what Shawn Levy had to say about this "Twitter war" below.
"He was tweeting on a Sunday! And I happen to know that he left his house to go somewhere, like, he's in a remote location with the sole purpose of escaping his house that has his young kids in it so that he can write this script that I need very, very soon. I'm like, go cloister yourself in this fortress of solitude somewhere that I won't share with the world. And then, I'm on an airplane, and I'm reading he's tweeting like about Sunday football, and I'm like, 'The hell, man? Get back to work!' So then we had like a three-tweet long Twitter war, and then we texted each other like, 'That was fun.' But then I was like, 'No, seriously, get back to work.'"
For those who have followed Joe Carnahan's career, he has never been one to hold back, on any particular topic, which is why most weren't surprised when he called Nathan Drake the "anti-Indiana Jones" last week. Shawn Levy joked that the writer has the "biggest mouth," but he's telling the truth about Nathan Drake being the opposite of Indiana Jones. Here's what the filmmaker had to say below.
"Yeah, I always feel like I have a big mouth; Joe has the biggest mouth, it's awesome. Joe is so entertaining in real life and on social media because he's fearless, he's candid, and I do think that where he's telling the truth is that, Indiana Jones, people compare Uncharted to it because both are treasure-hunting movies, but Indy was academic, there was nobility and a kind of well-intentioned ... he actually was heroic whereas Drake, the last thing he would ever call himself or be called is heroic. And if he has heroic qualities within him, they're in spite of his rogue nature. So maybe from a million miles away it'll have those Indy elements, but it's very much a much grittier, more naturalistic, real-world, contemporary ... that's the other thing, Indiana Jones is a period piece, right? We always kind of forget that it's not set in this world, in this now, whereas Uncharted will be."
With the advent of virtual reality, some have wondered if video game movies like Uncharted could make use of VR technology. When asked if he would consider implementing any sort of virtual reality or augmented reality approach to Uncharted, it seems he may consider it. Here's what the director had to say below.
"I think what we all feel when we play Uncharted is that approach, that action experience is so, so immersive. I've already started thinking about how do we approach these action sequences in a way that may or may not be the same set pieces from the game, because I think people would be disappointed if all I did was put those in live-action, but that feel continuous with that immersion. You are there, with Drake, doing that stuff from building to building to vehicle to water to air, and it feels kind of continuous and engaging. I have, like many of us, only dabbled in samplings of virtual reality and more literal immersive technologies. I think it is staggeringly impressive and probably a future we can't fight, but I'm hoping for many, many years first of making movies in this dimension and in this format, and in the challenge of making this flat screen immersive even without us being localized in it. I think we'll watch it change, but there's a certain challenge to creating a world that you are in even if you know you're watching a two-dimensional screen."
The video game series centers on Nathan Drake, a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, who goes on a quest to find the lost city of El Dorado. Along the way, he runs into a rival treasure hunter, who must team up to fend off creatures, mutated Spaniards and Nazis. Sony doesn't have a release date set for Uncharted yet, but if filming does in fact begin in the summer of 2017, then it could be possible for Sony to release Uncharted at some point in the summer of 2018.