During the recent IMAX screening of Shawn Levy‘s Real Steel, hosted by our own Steven Weintraub, the prolific director and producer talked at length about his beloved 2011 fighting robot movie … and a possible sequel. But since he has so many irons in the fire, Levy also talked a bit about the upcoming second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, and, of course, his highly anticipated video game adaptation, Uncharted.
While you can read up on what Levy had to say about Real Steel 2 and Stranger Things in our related articles, this one concerns the status of Uncharted. Levy will direct and produce the Naughty Dog action-adventure game adaptation that follows the roguish Nathan Drake in his quest for legendary treasure. While the film is still in early stages, Levy revealed the progress on all fronts, from the script, to casting, to Sony’s planned start date for filming.
As for just how long Levy has been circling Uncharted, he said:
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.
You read that right; Levy will indeed be tackling Uncharted within the 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.
Steve and Levy shared a fun story about how the director had to clamp down, in a good-natured way, on screenwriter Joe Carnahan who was supposed to be working on the script and not tweeting about NFL games:
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.”
Steve also had a chance to chat with Carnahan recently. He talked quite a bit about the challenges of video game adaptations and the tone they were going for with this script. You can read about that here, and follow along below to see Levy’s take on it:
Steve: He called Uncharted the “anti-Indiana Jones”…
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.
Clearly one of the biggest news items related to Uncharted will be the casting of Nathan Drake. Levy confirmed the status of that process:
Have you thought about casting?
Levy: I’ve definitely thought about it.
Have you been meeting with people?
Levy: The truth is, the conversations that are happening right now are with the studio and the producers talking about who feels right to us and to me.