According to Deadline, Cruise is in talks with Warner Bros. to portray Napoleon Solo, lead character of the “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Guy Ritchie, director of “Sherlock Holmes,” “RocknRolla” and “Snatch,” is set to direct.
The original “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” series followed two secret agents, the American Napoleon Solo and the Russian Illya Kuryakin, working for the United Network Command for Law Enforcement in the attempts to stop the evil organization THRUSH. The series ran from 1964 to 1968 and received considerable acclaim.
Previously, Warner Bros. had planned for George Clooney to star in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” with Steven Soderbergh directing. But Moviefone notes that Clooney hurt his back in 2011 and simply couldn’t keep up with the film’s action-oriented demands. Following that, Soderbergh attempted to rope other male leads into the project, including Ryan Gosling, Channing Tatum, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender. When no one signed on, Soderbergh passed on the project. In 2012, Warner Bros. decided on Guy Ritchie as the film’s new director.
Studios couldn’t pick a better time to launch a spy-themed action thriller franchise. Last year, “Skyfall” set the record for highest-grossing James Bond film in history, bringing in more than $1 billion worldwide. And just as the original “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” TV series made cashed in on Sean Connery’s James Bond films, a film reboot could see large profits as well, though probably not in excess of a billion dollars.
Still, a “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” movie could gain traction with Cruise as the star. He’s played plenty of action heroes in the past and already has a successful spy-themed franchise under his belt in “Mission: Impossible.” If he accepts the role, it will be his second time starring in the film reboot of a 1960s TV show.
Up next on Cruise’s schedule is “Oblivion,” a futuristic science fiction thriller set for release on April 19.