Chris Pratt quickly went from talented comedic actor to franchise star with this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and now he’s poised to lead another studio tentpole film. Sources tell us that Pratt is now attached to topline Universal’s adaptation of the graphic novel Cowboy Ninja Viking, which was created by writer A.J. Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo. It sounds like the kind of title that would pique the interest of Pratt’s Parks and Recreation alter ego Andy Dwyer, and indeed it’s a rather heightened genre project. The story revolves around an assassin with Multiple Personality Disorder who possess the skills of a cowboy, a ninja, and a Viking, and works for a secret government program. [Update: Pratt has confirmed his involvement on Twitter.] More after the jump.
A Cowboy Ninja Viking movie has been kicking around for a few years now. Zombieland scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese initially penned the adaptation for Disney, which deemed the resulting script “too edgy”. Universal subsequently picked it up out of turnaround and a few years ago attached Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) to direct, though he’s no longer involved with the project.
The protagonist of the graphic novel, Duncan, is a result of a counter-intelligence program made up of Multiple Personality Disorder patients who are transformed into agents known as Triplets, so-called for their three different personalities (hence the title). Duncan subsequently escapes and uses his skills to track down the billionaire who masterminded the program. We’re told that per the latest draft of the script, the three different personalities (the Cowboy, the Ninja, and the Viking) physically manifest onscreen as three different people when Duncan switches personas, but to onlookers he still just looks like Duncan (ie. Pratt). It’s possible that the film could be executed this way, with three different actors playing the protagonist’s manifestations while Pratt plays Duncan, but obviously the script and/or vision may evolve once a director comes onboard.
Though a director is not yet set for the film, attaching Pratt as the lead will no doubt attract interest from a number of filmmakers. Film 360 is producing the project, as is Mark Gordon, who is also producing the Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs biopic at Sony.
Pratt has undoubtedly been fielding a number of offers in the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy’s success, especially now that his commitment to Parks and Recreation is at an end. The NBC sitcom is currently in the midst of filming its final two episodes, freeing up Pratt’s schedule for next year and beyond. He’s obviously due to return for the Marvel sequel Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which is set for release in 2017, and as the star of next summer’s Jurassic World he may have more commitments to that franchise in the future, but it appears that he sparked to the material of Cowboy Ninja Viking and Universal is obviously happy to keep Pratt in the fold.
Pratt’s always been a talented actor, but with Guardians of the Galaxy he proved that he could lead a massive franchise film while also balancing both the comedic and dramatic aspects of the material with ease. It’s certainly exciting to see how his career is progressing, and Cowboy Ninja Viking sounds like a swell fit for the performer’s sensibilities.
— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) November 20, 2014