Tom Cruise

Warner Bros. is not giving up The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The spy thriller has been kicking around for several years at the studio, going through Matthew Vaughn, David Dobkin, and Steven Soderbergh before finally landing with Guy Ritchie in 2011. The project’s been pretty quiet sinc then, but now it may be about to take a big step forward.

According to a new report, Tom Cruise is in early talks to take the lead role of Napoleon Solo, the Cold War spy originally portrayed by Robert Vaughn in the ’60s TV series. Hit the jump for more details.

During the year or so that Soderbergh was set to helm, he struggled to get a leading man to stick. George Clooney was the initial first choice, but when physical difficulties kept him away Soderbergh went through a wide array of potential replacements including Michael Fassbender, Joel Kinnaman, Johnny Depp, and Channing Tatum. None of them stuck. When Ritchie took over in December 2011, there were still no stars attached.

It’s too soon to say whether Ritchie will have better luck with casting than his predecessor did, but it looks like he’s aiming high. The other major role, that of Solo’s Russian partner Illya Kuryakin, remains to be filled. The original ’60s series saw the pair frequently battling the evil organization T.H.R.U.S.H.

Warner Bros.’ cinematic adaptation has gone through a number of different incarnations over the years, including Dobkin’s more comedic take and Soderbergh’s more classic ’60s-set version. Scott Z. Burns wrote the last draft of the script under Soderbergh, which the director said would “take U.N.C.L.E. back to its roots,” but it’s unclear how much has changed since then.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has the potential to give Cruise another major studio franchise, in addition to the Mission: Impossible series and the Jack Reacher movies. Cruise’s other upcoming roles include Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion, due out next month, and Doug Liman’s All You Need is Kill, scheduled for next year.

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