In a story published at The New Yorker, writer Tad Friend centers his latest piece on the dealings that encircle the business model of STX Entertainment and its chairman Adam Fogelson. One such segment places a little bit more light on the development on the latest international action thriller, Mile 22, which was announced last March.
Then-UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Indonesian action star Iko Uwais were the first two
to be cast with The Rundown
helmer Peter Berg intially producing for STX. The story, from a script by Graham Rowland, centers on a CIA agent stationed in Indonesia, tasked with transporting an informant from the center of the city with the help of a local cop, to an awaiting getaway plane 22 miles away with a gauntlet of corrupt cops and heavily armed locals aimed at taking them out before they escape.
By July 2015
, Mark Wahlberg who starred in Berg’s Lone Survivor
and in upcoming disaster drama, Deepwater Horizon
, was confirmed as an addition to the cast, though no details were available at all pertaining to what exactly he would play. On that note, Friend sheds light on the January 11 piece which illustrates the dialogue Berg and Fogelson share in the events leading up to Rousey’s and Wahlberg’s attachment, with specific regard to the role Wahlberg will play, “Silva”.
The article notes a description of Silva as “a salty intelligence hack who’s shoveled shit on four continents,”. The character apparently wasn’t written for a superstar’s role specifically due to the film’s budget constraints. However, Fogelson was noted as determined to cast a legitimate name to validate Mile 22 as a solid film and “not a vanity exercise,”.
“If Liev Schreiber wanted to do it, we’d talk about the film in one way, the ten-million-dollar version, and if Dwayne Johnson or Mark Wahlberg wanted to do it we’d talk about it in another—the fifteen-to-eighteen-million version.” says Fogelson, who had also expressed concerns with Rousey’s acting.
Over time and after failing to attach actor Will Smith who the article notes as a big MMA fan, Berg eventually offered to direct and then pitched the role to Wahlberg who appealed to Berg’s sell. As the report reads: “Wahlberg told me that Berg won him over by situating the role in the annals of cinematic history: We talked about this guy being like Marlon Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ one of the great, great movie villains. But with a lot more screen time.”
As such, the article notes that Rowland’s script with respect to Silva, was essentially “written up” for Wahlberg in two drafts with the first draft illustrating Silva as a turncoat who served as a mentor to Rousey’s C.I.A. character before dying in the third act. The new draft, now considered with franchise potential and acknowledges Fogelson’s earlier inquiries on Rousey, describes Silva as “the star” and “a complex man with a shot at redemption”, a move which ultimately sizes Rousey’s film presence down to modest emotive dialogue. In turn, it also gives her plenty of room to showcase her screen fighting prowess. “It allows Ronda to do everything she can and should do without having to carry any undue acting weight.” said Fogelson quoted in the article.
As a result, following protracted negotiations, Wahlberg is getting paid three-fourths of his top quote along with an ample share of the profits, essentially tripling the budget to $35 million dollars. It’s a bold move for STX, a comapny known for financing smaller-budgeted pictures, but they’re following a formula they hope will otherwise guarantee Mile 22 as a hit worth building on.
Rousey, whose previous appearances include Furious 7 and The Expendables 3, will have several other opportunities to build on her acting with upcoming roles in the new biopic, My Fight/Your Fight, based on her autobiography, an upcoming remake of Road House which begins filming this Summer, and Warner Bros.’s The Athena Project. In the meantime, Wahlberg also has The Six-Billion Dollar Man in tow from The Weinstein Company via Dimension next to an upcoming return to the Autobots’ battlefront in Michael Bay’s next Transformers movie while Uwais, who just appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will return with pure action and grit in Liam O’Donnell’s Beyond Skyline, as well as Headshot from The Mo Brothers.
Stay tuned for more info.
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Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.