Casting Call: A Prophet

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.

“Americans are too lazy to read subtitles.”

So said one French blogger upon reading the news that Sony Pictures is developing a Hollywood remake of Jacques Audiard‘s French prison film, A Prophet. The original is a brutal rise-and-fall crime drama—a kind of Francophone Goodfellas. The film follows convict Malik El Djebena as he tries to navigate and survive the deeply tribal politics of prison, where racial fractions— Corsican and Muslim—are constantly vying for dominance.

The film will be produced by Neal H. Moritz, known for big action adventures like I Am Legend and the Fast and Furious franchise. Hopefully he will not reduce Audiard’s subtle, physiologically layered, and profoundly symbolic original to just another dull, tired crime saga. We have all seen the predicable and forgettable shoot-’em-up action flicks too many times before. A Prophet, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes and was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, is more intelligent than that. No news yet on who will direct. We know we are only meant to be making casting suggestions here, but we would nevertheless like to float the idea that Werner Herzog would be perfect to helm this project. He can deliver the gritty naturalism the film needs whilst also approaching the material with his trademark vitality and humanity. His experience with the subject matter, having already directed prison documentary Into the Abyss and upcoming crime series Hate in America, is yet another reason Sony should be begging him to join the team.

Hopefully the film will be handled like the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo remake, which, although slightly pointless, still managed to preserve much of the depth of its Swedish predecessor. Sony needs to find their own Rooney Mara, someone who can bring a fresh and unexpected interpretation to characters who have already been masterfully acted, just as Ms. Mara made Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth her own. Here are the actors we think may be up to the challenge.

Casting Call runs every Friday. For more, click here.