Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in TWC's "Intouchables" Remake
The Weinstein Co.’s has set a March 9, 2018 release date for their American remake of the international blockbuster that was the French dramedy "The Intouchables" which helped make Omar Sy a star. It's also a role for which he won the Cesar (the French equivalent of the Oscars) in 2012, for Best Actor.
The remake stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in the roles originated by Frenchmen Sy and Francois Cluzet.
How the original French film (which was inspired by a true story) will be remade for an American audience, remains to be seen. When the remake was first announced 4 years ago, in an interview with Elvis Mitchell, Harvey Weinstein, when asked what his approach would be with regards to recreating Omar Sy's character (who's Senegalese) for American audiences, versus the real life man he played in the film, who is Algerian, the conversation dove into matters of immigration as experienced in France, compared to the USA, and how all of that will factor into the USA remake.
Here's that segment of their conversation:
HARVEY: "Originally, the intention was to have a black actor do it, but you talk about immigration, and the whole Latino thing that's happening right now, it's opened up our eyes, and obviously there's an explosion of thought."
He then went on to talk about the unreliability of the Republicans on the immigration issue here in the USA, before Elvis jumped back in with this:
ELVIS: "In that way it could be a political film... the president decided to grant special status to people who live in this country... it felt like it could be a way into the story that you never thought about."
Of course this conversation was had while Obama was still president. The story could suddenly take on an entirely different meaning under a President Trump.
Harvey agreed with Mitchell, adding what he felt was a misunderstanding we here in the USA had about the French film - essentially that we didn't get it, and we were looking at it through American eyes losing the message of the film in the process; one that was embraced not only in France, but all over the world.
I mention all this because of what has become a central issue of debate here in the USA recently - immigration, broadly speaking.
In the real-life story the film is based on, the character played by Omar Sy - Abdel Sellou - is Algerian. But they went with the Senegalese Sy in the French film. Omar Sy himself said that the Stateside equivalent of the relationship between the countries that the two men in the original film/real life are from, would be akin to the relationship between the USA and Mexico; so the character he plays in the original film should really be played by a Mexican actor in the Hollywood/Weinstein Company remake - if they want to be 100% authentic, as Omar Sy suggested.
Read our interview with Omar Cy (here) for more.
At the time, we felt that Harvey's answers gave us a lot to consider in terms of the remake, and a closer look was warranted. But now that Hart is indeed playing the role originated by Omar Sy, let's see how Harvey runs with this remake and if an America under a Trump administration has any influence on how the story unfolds; I can only assume that Hart is playing a black American man. Weinstein did say in the interview that they originally planned to cast a black (African American) actor, and but weren't immediately certain of that.
Mitchell's suggestion that the remake could be a "political film" with some aspect of the immigration debate incorporated (or as Weinstein put it "the whole Latino thing"), is indeed worth considering in terms of the story, with Hart now involved. There are after all Latinos of African descent, so he could very well be playing a black Latino man.
It was previously rumored that Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock and Idris Elba were all on the short list of actors being considered to play the lead role, in what would have been a film directed by Paul Feig. None of that was confirmed by Harvey, however.
Neil Burger is directing.
Story and character specifics for the remake have been kept mostly underwraps.
A Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart pairing doesn't immediately register. Although maybe Weinstein might be going for something less comedic and actually more dramatic, giving Hart atypical material to work with here. But a March 2018 release suggests that there are no Oscar plans for the film, even though the original French film was a multiple award winner for Omar Sy, picking up France's highest acting honors for his performance.
Joining Hart and Cranston in the film are Julianna Margulies, Nicole Kidman, and Aja Naomi King.
Below is the trailer for the original French film, which is available on various home video formats in the USA. Catch it before the American remake.