The world has only known Shawn Levy would be directing an Uncharted for a week. But in that time, he joked that social media is going to make casting the lead character, Nathan Drake, very easy.
“I made a joke, and it was a joke though people took it seriously, that I’m getting so many suggestions on social media that I can save money and not hire a casting director,” Levy told io9. “Twitter is a super-opinionated casting director, so thank you Twitter.”
On a more serious note, the director reluctantly revealed that even though Joe Carnahan is still writing the script for the video game adaptation, Levy has obviously started to think about that all-important lead role—a role the internet has been fan-casting for a decade.
“I do have some people in mind and I’ve started some very secret, low-grade conversations and explorations of actors,” Levy said. “And I literally need to stop talking now.”
The search for an actor to play Nathan Drake has been almost as tumultuous as who was going to make the Uncharted film adaptation, which Sony has been developing with Naughty Dog since around 2010. In the time, Mark Wahlberg, David O. Russell, Seth Gordon, Neil Burger and others have all been attached to the property but Levy thinks he and Carnahan have finally cracked the code.
“Other drafts have had viable plots,” Levy said. “So I almost feel like, what’s different now, is yes, we have a really cool and unique plot. But we have a tone that Joe and I are channeling right into the script that is that Nathan-blend of real guy, heroism, snarky, funny wit. I think we figured out the tone in an exciting way.”
You may recognize Levy’s name not just because of the huge blockbuster films he’s previously done, like all three Night at the Museum movies and Real Steel, but because he’s a producer of Stranger Things as well as Arrival. Those projects and others have kept him busy over the past year as a producer while, the director says, he’s been turning down family projects left and right waiting for a step up. “The next level,” in his words. He believes that’s Uncharted, which will be his next project.
“It’s been a long ass time since we’ve had a great, and contemporary, treasure hunter movie,” Levy said. Everyone will invoke Raiders [of the Lost Ark] and National Treasure but this movie, the combination of the hunt, the action, the relationships and the characters, I think it makes it really unique and super juicy to bring to the big screen.”
The most daunting part of bringing Uncharted to the big screen, though, is the action. In an industry where giant Hollywood blockbusters attempt to top one another every weekend, the Uncharted games put most of them to shame. Trains dangling off cliffs, men flying from cranes while shooting guns, huge set pieces seemingly beyond the possibility of real life are crucial to Uncharted’s DNA and Levy says his film will deliver.
“Those action scenes blow my mind in the game and if I don’t give that experience to audiences with the movie I didn’t do my job,” he said. “And I intend to do my job.”
Uncharted does not yet have a release date, though Levy hopes to be completed with filming by the end of 2017. We’ll have more on his other projects soon.