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“Sayonara, Bonfire of the Vanities!”

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Frank Darabont‘s adaptation of the classic novel Fahrenheit 451 ranks right up there with Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, Fincher’s Rendezvous with Rama and Aronofsky’s take on Lone Wolf & Cub as an epic dream project that’s been discussed for ages. For nearly a year, Tom Hanks had been pegged for the 2009 film’s lead role of Guy Montag, a content fireman of the future who slowly realizes that his government occupation of burning books and oppressing book owners is nothing less than horrific.

Unfortch(-unately, by reader request) Hanks is no longer attached to what would have been his second collabo(-ration, by reader request) with the director after 1999′s so-so The Green Mile, according to Darabont…

“Mr. Hanks sadly and regretfully had to back out,” Darabont told MTV. “I was really looking forward to working with him again but his other commitments just precluded it. He had to take a step back.”

Darabont remains confident in his long percolating vision, and it sounds like the film won’t be sidetracked by the snag. But what actor is up to the challenge of portraying sci-fi author legend Ray Bradbury‘s disillusioned everyman in one of the great, prolific Man vs. The Man tales of all time?

“It needs to be somebody like [Hanks] who has the ability to trigger a greenlight but is also the right guy for the part. It’s a narrow target. It’s a short list of people,” Darabont sighed.

As a fan of the book who was never big on Francois Truffaut’s 1966 version, which always seemed more occupied with getting film students’ rocks off than being a worthy harbinger of doom, this quote from Darabont is particularly cool…

“I see this movie so clearly in my head. It’s flowing in my veins,” he said. And just because you think of books first when you think “Fahrenheit 451,” don’t expect something akin to Jane Austen, Darabont promised. He explained, “One character in the script says, ‘It’s not really even about books. It’s about control.’ It’s about the control of government and authority. It’s one of the greatest books ever written. It’s got all that great political stuff underneath the skin of it but really what it is is a great galloping tale.”

I haven’t yet seen The Mist, but Darabont seems to be getting a little angrier and darker with age and that’s always a good thing in my book. The exception being Craig Ferguson, who agreeably treats life like a beach as his hair goes grayer.

Discuss: Who should play Montag now that Hanks has lost his bookmark? Should Darabont go younger?

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