Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
When Steven Spielberg set a new version of Harvey as his next film, speculation quickly turned to the possible star of the movie. Since Spielberg has worked closely with Tom Hanks, a man said in many respects to be the modern Jimmy Stewart, who starred in the original film version of Harvey, naturally his name came up. Now Variety says that Hanks isn’t interested in the role for precisely that reason. That leaves a few obvious big-name choices like Will Smith and Tom Cruise, both of whom I’d humbly hope Spielberg would avoid with extreme prejudice. Cruise isn’t much of a worry, since he’s busy, but Smith isn’t locked into projects, which makes casting him seem like an obvious layup for Spielberg. (It would also be further setup for that Oldboy remake, and we still don’t need that.) Who else could fill the shoes of a regular Joe whose best friend is an invisible talking rabbit?
I’m surprised we haven’t seen many Jake Gyllenhall jokes about the role yet, given that he did his time with Richard Kelly’s Harvey-referencing Frank in Donnie Darko. Movieline did mention him in a fun piece speculating on who could fill the shoes of Harvey’s lead. One of the site’s joking suggestions is one that I actually quite like, even though I can’t see any way in hell that it would happen: Sacha Baron Cohen. I’d love to see Cohen bring his brand of uncomfortable dedication to the role. But when recasting a role last held by Jimmy Stewart you just don’t turn to a guy whose last film was filled with naked swinging dicks.
Movieline also mentions Jeremy Renner, and while I love the guy I’d hate to see that happen. For that matter, when you really get down to it I don’t actually want to see Cohen in the role, either. From the perspective of spitballing possibilities he’s an intirguing choice, but I’m not sure that even that could really make me think that Harvey v2.0 was anything but a quickie stopgab in Spielberg’s filmography.