Japanese Warner Bros. remaking Unforgiven with Ken Watanabe in Eastwood role – movieScope
The production is already in deep development after starting in May 2011, with Eastwood giving his blessing last November. Lee Sang-il, the director of 2010 crime drama Akunin (Villain) and 2006 Japanese Academy Award winning Hula Girls, is attached to helm the project.
Eastwood’s original film starred Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, with Eastwood playing the part of retired gunslinger William Munny, who takes on one more job years after he had hung up his guns and turned to farming.
In an intriguing cultural comparator, Watanabe will take on the Eastwood role as a samurai living in poverty who accepts a final job as a contract killer.
Although remakes of Far East Asian films have become de rigueur in Hollywood – with Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and Spike Lee’s forthcoming Old Boy two obvious examples – this will be the first Japanese remake of an Oscar-winning film.
The remake will take place in 1880, in the years following the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, on the northern island of Hokkaido.
In a statment Watanabe said of the project: “Eastwood is a Godfather of the film world, so remaking one of his major works is a big challenge. Under director Lee we will do battle in the great outdoors of Hokkaido and create our own take on Unforgiven.”
“I’m honoured that my good friend Ken Watanabe, who did such great work on Letters From Iwo Jima, is teaming up with Lee Sang-il for the Japanese remake of Unforgiven,” Eastwood said in a statement.
Watanabe will be joined by veteran actors Akira Emoto, playing the Morgan Freeman role, and Koichi Sato as Gene Hackman’s character.
Principal photography will begin in mid-September until the end of November on location in Hokkaido, with Warner Bros. is aiming for a release in the fall of 2013 .