I’m kind of wondering what Alexander Skarsgard’s career management plan looks like. On the one hand, he’s jumping off a successful cable show into films and taking supporting roles in movies like The East and Melancholia and What Maisie Knew, but on the other hand he books into would-be blockbusters like Battleship and a live-action Tarzan adaptation. Actors need franchises in their wheelhouse, yes, but a good TV show actually serves the same purpose (regular visibility with the public playing an identifiable character), so as long Skarsgard has True Blood, blockbusters don’t need to be a priority.
But that Tarzan project was coming together quickly over the last few months, with Skarsgard and David Yates on to direct and Jessica Chastain in talks to play Jane, production planned for this year with a tentative 2014 release. It was looking like Tarzan would be Skarsgard’s big leading-man coming out party. Until Warner Brothers canned the project this week. Deadline is reporting they’ve shut down the production office, with sketchy plans of starting up again in 2014, citing concerns over the budget.
Budget? Really? That’s it?
I’m sure it’s part of it, but have you read Tarzan lately? It’s very much a product of its era (read: racist, sexist, jingoistic). If you’re approaching Tarzan, you have a lot of other concerns before you even get to the accounting. There’s a reason this is a story that’s only been made twice in the last twenty years and both times it was a cartoon. And one of those stars Kellan Lutz. As Lainey has noted, if you’re a fan of Skarsgard, do you really want him associated with Kellan Lutz’s level in any way, shape or form?
Also, Skarsgard isn’t a proven leading man and Warner Brothers has been gun-shy about going into expensive tent pole properties without a marquee name to carry it, having already canned a reimagining of Camelot with Joel Kinnaman and Kit Harington. It’s not bad business on their end. If Skarsgard is going to anchor this project—it hasn’t been scrapped entirely, just put on hold and taken back to scratch—he’ll need Name Actors around him to guarantee butts in seats, not unlike unproven Armie Hammer partnering with Johnny Depp for The Lone Ranger. It was rumored WB was talking to Jamie Foxx about the third lead, but that seems like a step down for Foxx, right?
It also seems like a step down for Skarsgard. He’s been doing interesting and diverse character work in prestigious projects in combination with True Blood and while I’m not sure about his ability to carry a big-ass blockbuster, surely he can afford to be patient and find a better looking tent pole than Tarzan? Especially after Battleship sh*t the bed. One Tarzan is enough. Let Kellan Lutz take the fall on this one.