Doctor Who alum Matt Smith is nearing a deal to join Oscar winner Jared Leto in Sony’s Morbius movie, which is based on the Spider-Man villain of the same name.
Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) will direct from a script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who co-created the Netflix series Lost in Space. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing Morbius with Lucas Foster, while Sony executive Palak Patel will oversee the project for the studio. Production will begin in the next month or two, according to sources.
In the latest expansion of the Spider-Man universe, Leto will play Morbius, a world-renowned biochemist dying of an unknown blood disease, who injects himself with vampire bat DNA in hopes of being cured. Instead, he turns into a real vampire.
If I had to wager a guess regarding Smith’s role, I’d bet he’s playing Loxias, a good friend of Morbius who has the same unknown blood disease as him. When Loxias takes the so-called cure, he’s transformed into a killing machine, and it’s up to Morbius to stop him. I’d heard that Eddie Redmayne was the top choice for the role and that Sony also made a play for James McAvoy, both of whom are well-known to fanboys thanks to the Fantastic Beasts and X-Men franchises, respectively. Smith brings his own geek cred as the star of Doctor Who, Terminator Genisys and, of course, his upcoming turn in Star Wars: Episode IX.
Morbius was created in 1971 and was positioned as one of Spider-Man’s many villains. The bloodthirsty character received his own series in 1992 with Morbius, the Living Vampire, which had a 32-issue run through April 1995.
I’ve never been a big fan of Smith’s work on the big screen, but I’m willing to give him another shot, as it’s hard to judge him based on Lost River, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and that unwatchable Terminator movie. After all, Smith recently earned an Emmy nomination for his turn as Prince Philip on the second season of The Crown. It’s a big year for his feature career, even without Star Wars. Not only does he have the spy thriller Official Secrets debuting at Sundance this month, but he next stars in the biopic Mapplethorpe as well as the buzzy New Regency thriller His House. Smith is represented by UTA and Troika, and his casting was first reported by Variety.