Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Case of the Recast Counselor

Does Robert Downey Jr. have to become the face of every famous crime-fiction protagonist? First it was Sherlock Holmes. Now it’s apparently going to be Perry Mason, the fictional Los Angeles defense attorney whose renown was bred through more than 60 novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, plus a long-running TV series. As Variety reports,
Warner Bros. and Team Downey are teaming to relaunch the "Perry Mason" franchise as a feature film, with Robert Downey Jr. eyeing the title defense attorney role as a potential starring vehicle.

Like the original series of books by Erle Stanley Gardner, "Perry Mason" will be set in the rough and tumble world of early 1930s Los Angeles, and feature fan favorites such as Mason’s secretary, Della Street, private investigator Paul Drake, and Mason’s longtime courtroom nemesis, Hamilton Burger.

Team Downey principals Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey will produce with Robert Cort, while David Gambino, Eric Hetzel and Joe Horacek will exec produce with Susan Feiles and Chris Darling.

The producers are currently looking for a writer, whose script will be based on an original story by Robert Downey Jr. and Gambino.
I can actually imagine Downey as Mason. The slightly hard-boiled attorney of the novels was never the granite block of a man represented by Raymond Burr, even though Gardner was happy with Burr’s casting in the role. I just hope Downey doesn’t try to turn this character into an action figure, the way he has Holmes.

(Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)


Man of la Book said...

I think Robert Downey Jr. is one of the greatest actors of our generation. I thought he was absolutely fantastic as Chaplin.

Laura M. Campbell said...

We'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully, he doesn't typecast himself to the point of no interest.

Ronald Tierney said...

Interesting — Downey as Perry Mason and Johnny Depp as Nick Charles. I also hope they don't have Perry Mason leaping from tall buildings. I have more confidence in Depp, who I think can keep that lovable silliness that William Powell brought to Nick charles, while making the drama itself a little tougher. Both will be interesting.

Naomi Johnson said...

I'm just happy they're keeping the time period in the '30s. I can see Downey as Mason, but Depp as Nick Charles is a no-go from the get-go.

John said...

I agree with you, Jeff. I first read of this at Janet Rudolph's blog earlier today and commented there about how Mason is a smart alecky, tough ladies' man who should have a degree of sex appeal. Downey has it all. Burr does not fit the picture of Mason in the four or five books I've read (and they were all from the 1930s period, BTW). Perry Mason as an "action figure" wouldn't be so unfitting. In the early books he's rarely in a courtroom and usually breaking into apartments, messing around at the crime scene, or getting into other illegal mischief. And I recall a couple of fistfights.

Barbara said...

Why do they have to remake everything? Are there no new ideas out there? I personally avoid remakes because I never enjoy them as much as the original.

I have no doubt Johnny Depp could play any role there is so if this remake is made with him as the detective, I'm sure he'll be good. As you can tell, I'm a fan.