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Apocalypse Now ReRedux
This week's update by: doc     Last week's feature McCartney 1984 Playboy interview
The cast is tremendous. Tom Cruise as Willard. Tom Hanks as Kilgore. Denzel Washington as Chief. Tom Sizemore as Chef. Leonardo DiCaprio as Lance. Urban favorite Chris Rock is expected to improvise brilliantly as Clean. And grumpy superstar Harrison Ford agrees to cut his hair really really short to play Kurtz. Owen Wilson remains ready to take on the role of Dennis Hopper.
Remaking Apocalypse Now

Memo, Nov 14 2003

TO: CSB
FROM: JDB
RE: Possible developments...

What if they announced tomorrow that they were remaking Apocalypse Now? That Sean Penn was going to play Willard, Ed Harris was Kilgore, Kevin Bacon was Chef, Heath Ledger was Lance, Mykelti Williamson was Chief, some skinny unknown black kid was Clean, Jack Nicholson had already agreed to shave his head and be Kurtz, and Owen Wilson was playing Dennis Hopper. Francis Ford Coppola was producing and a protege named Darren Aronosky was at the helm to shoot in Mexico and the backlot at Paramount.

Then Sean Penn became unavailable, which made Aronosky leave, which caused the rest of the cast to split, except for Mykelti Williamson, who couldn't get out of his contract. Suddenly David Fincher is signed at the helm, after dropping out of Mission Impossible 3, and Sean Penn is re-signed as Willard, Brad Pitt as Kilgore, John C. McGinley as Chef, Jared Leto as Lance, some skinny unknown black kid is cast as Clean, Michael Douglas has already agreed to shave his head and be Kurtz, and Owen Wilson is playing Dennis Hopper. Filming is set for Brazil and the Paramount backlot.

Then Mykelti Williamson can't get out of his contract for a TV show that is suddenly put into production, and the slight delay in filming plus the inability to get Charles Dutton to commit to the role causes Fincher to get cold feet and bail to do some skater-punk flick. The entire cast drops out as the chance to work with Fincher folds over. Then, suddenly, the first choice for the remake, Steven Soderbergh, becomes available.

Immediately, Brad Pitt is signed as Willard, George Clooney as Kilgore, Luis Guzman as Chef, Don Cheadle as Chief, Benicio Del Toro as Lance, some unknown skinny black kid as Clean, and Owen Wilson as Dennis Hopper. Julia Roberts has agreed to play Kurtz, calling it the best part she's ever been offered. Still, she refuses to shave her head for the role.

Soderbergh then abandons the project to shoot a movie on video in his backyard. Coppola throws up his hands... until A-list favorite film-maker Steven Speilberg expresses interest.

The cast is tremendous. Tom Cruise as Willard. Tom Hanks as Kilgore. Denzel Washington as Chief. Tom Sizemore as Chef. Leonardo DiCaprio as Lance. Urban favorite Chris Rock is expected to improvise brilliantly as Clean. And grumpy superstar Harrison Ford agrees to cut his hair really really short to play Kurtz. Owen Wilson remains ready to take on the role of Dennis Hopper.

Then Harrison Ford starts making unreasonable contract demands, including 110% of grosses and the condition that his character will not be killed, but he will be paid for a sequel whether he chooses to make a sequel or not (also, no sequel will be made without his participation and he gets script approval on the sequel even if his character does not appear). Speilberg cuts Ford loose, signs Richard Dreyfuss, then leaves the project entirely when he realizes that shooting in another country means spending entire days away from his kids.

The movie ping-pongs rapidly. Paul Schrader signs Willem DaFoe as Willard and Nick Nolte as Kilgore, but then cannot sign anyone who would want to be around Nick Nolte. The project is considered by James Cameron, but Paramount execs balk at his idea is create a digital Kurtz that interacts with the other actors independently of any control by human beings, technology that Cameron estimated would take another twenty years to develop. Terence Malick is similarly discouraged at his idea to use only Aborigines who don't speak English for the cast. Woody Allen rejects an offer when he can't figure out how to move the action to take place entirely within his favorite Manhattan bistro. Peter Jackson turns it down to direct King Kong. Martin Scorsese politely declines, saying that "he doesn't want to deal with that much stress." Owen Wilson suddenly bails on the project when he realizes that Dennis Hopper is a fellow actor, and not the name of a character in Apocalypse Now.

Finally, hip auteur Brett Ratner is brought onboard to save the project. Instantly, Ratner brings to the table his dream cast; Charlie Sheen as Willard, Jeremy Piven as Kilgore, Christopher Walken as Lance, Nicholas Cage as Chef, Don Cheadle as Chief, Anthony Hopkins ("we're buds!" says Ratner) as Kurtz, and finally, Chris Tucker as Dennis Hopper. Ratner is removed from the project when he is mysteriously shot to death by a man in the middle of a busy street in broad daylight. Any and all potential witnesses claim to have been looking the other way. The LAPD consider the case closed.

Sick to death of the development hell, Paramount dumps the project, only to see it picked up by Miramax, who immediately makes it a tent-pole release for their Dimension Films division. They immediately sign Vin Diesel as Willard, Matthew McCoughnahey as Kilgore, Freddie Prinze Jr. as Lance, Matthew Lillard as Chef, The Rock as Chief, Reese Witherspoon as Dennis Hopper, and Keanu Reeves as Kurtz. When asked about their controversial casting choice for the colonel, Harvey Weinstein stated in a press release, "We really wanted a strong actor to play the part, but after Matt and Ben passed, we thought we'd just nab somebody who appeals to The Matrix crowd." The director is Tatou, former TV commercial director of unspecified ethnicity who is making his feautre debut. Filming will commence in the cheapest studio in Brooklyn, and even thought they're shooting for a PG-13, Mirimax promises, "Lots of eighteen year old T and A. Really, more cleavage and thongs than you can shake a stick at!"

Suddenly, production is halted when Francis Ford Coppola discovers a loophole in his original contract, long forgotten due to sloppy handwriting and all that cocaine back then, stipulating that he has control over any and all versions, including remakes, sequels, and Brazilian donkeys (man, that was good cocaine back then!). Coppola immediately yanks back the rights to shoot his own version, which he proclaims will lay waste to any version of the film henceforth. The announcement is made for the historic start of

APOCALYPSE NOW: LE FLEUR! A FILM BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA

Production will commence next week at his Zoetrope studios, with Martin Sheen as Willard, Robert DuVall as Kilgore, Laurence Fishburne as Clean, Frederic Forrest as Chef, Sam Bottoms (or Tim, who can tell them apart?) as Lance, Albert Hall as Chief, Owen Wilson as Dennis Hopper, and Scott Glenn as Colby. Colby? Who the fuck is Colby!?! And, as Colonel Kurtz, the one and only Marlon Brando has agreed to slim down to 170 lbs, which he will accomplish in two weeks. Marlon Brando has already received his five million dollar paycheck advance for the role, which he promises he'll show up for.

Months pass. The execs are excited. A private screening of the final cut is scheduled. Apocalypse Now, the remake. Big grosses... Oscars... the movie rolls. Execs watch for two hours before they realize that they are watching the original film, with cuts to Owen Wilson standing before a green screen that has not been composited out (and by the way, he improvised brilliantly). When they try to reach Coppola, they discover he has disappeared with the entire 120 million shooting budget, as well as, through an accounting gaffe, the entire 60 million dollar marketing budget.

They say if you stand on the right hill in Northern California or the Swiss Alps... you can still hear him laughing.

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