It was announced early today that Mark Whalberg as signed on to play Nathan Drake in the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling video game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Now I’ve been waiting for this news for a long time – I loved this game. I loved it’s even better follow up Uncharted: Among Thieves. As far as I’m concerned these are the two best video games. Ever. It’s not even close. What separates them from other games isn’t the game-play but the narrative, characters and voice-acting; Among Thieves was one of the first (if not the first) games to record the dialogue with all the actors in the same room at the same time. The result was the first game that really played and watched like a movie. Videogame voice stalwart Nolan North provides Nathan Drake’s voice in the games. His Drake maintains the expected videogame protagonist heroism with cutting sarcasm and wit (have I mentioned how great the writing was in these games?) he makes light of everything while still managing to understand the gravity. He’s a grown-up and a kid at the same time. Think Indiana Jones crossed with Rick Castle. The point is that the character Nathan Drake is, is something that Mark Whalberg is not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Whalberg fan, I loved him in The Departed and The Italian Job and I’ve spent months in hypnotic therapy to forget that he ever had anything to do with The Happening. But he’s not Nathan Drake. Who should be? I’m not really sure. If Nathan Fillion were 10 years younger he’d have been perfect. Jeffery Donovan from Burn Notice wouldn’t be the worst casting out there, and I’d consider White Collar’s Matthew Bomer too. The problem of course is that they’re gunning for an A-list star which eliminates a lot of the better choices who may be lesser known or unproven box-office draws.
Maybe more alarming are Whalberg’s comments concerning some of the other potential castees – DeNiro and Pesci to play father or uncle? There’s no father or uncle in the game and while I’m ok with taking artistic licence, director David O. Russell would do better to stick with the general cast from the game.
Here’s a brief description of the other characters and a suggestion or two as to who should play them:
Victor “Sulley” Sullivan: Drake’s significantly older (late 50s-early 60s) mentor and treasure hunting partner. Think Bruce Campbell, who’s also the best guy to play him. J.K. Simmons might do as well.
Elena Fisher: Reporter/Host of an adventure television show, she meets Drake at the beginning of the story filming his search for Sir Francis Drake’s Coffin in the Caribbean Sea. She’s the story’s main love interest, kind of an all-American girl. If Kate Bosworth could act she wouldn’t be bad, but Kristen Bell is kind of a perfect fit. I also wouldn’t complain if they went the Scarlet Johansson route. Emily Rose, who voices her in the games, is also a candidate.
Gabriel Roman: Villian. Also after the treasure, Roman is one of those cut-throat wealthy highly educated types whose a little on the heavy side - the kind of guy who wears a white suit with a gold pocket watch and wipes his head/face/neck with a handkerchief from his breast pocket in the middle of the jungle. Terrence Stamp would be pretty good (though not as large he’s perfectly cut-throat) but I think Malcolm McDowell is ideal. DeNiro could fit here, but I think it’d be reaching.
Antoq Navarro: Roman’s right hand man. Ambitious and a stone-cold killer with his own agenda. If Willem Defoe and Antonio Banderas had a child, he’d be perfect for this role. I think Coby Bell of Burn Notice fame is the right kind of guy. Huge and stern looking. Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead would be pretty good too.
Eddie Raja: Sort of a villain, Eddie is Roman/Navarro’s man on the ground – the guy with actual treasure hunting expertise as well as an unfriendly, competitive history with Drake. Ernie Reyes from Rush Hour 2 seems to be the early favourite, and I’m ok with that. I also like Brandon T-Jackson from Tropic Thunder for the part.