UPDATE: We contacted Thomas Jane to get his take on all of this and this is what he had to say at the moment: "No comment, but I can tell you this, we have a classic with me & Sly & Hill. Script is tailor made for us all."
AICN broke it as a rumor today, and after a couple of key phone calls, we're here to confirm for ya that this bullshit is 200% true and it's one of the more glaring examples of studio interference that we've seen in a long time... not to mention just a major f*cking bummer of epic proportions.
As we exclusively told you last month, Thomas Jane was cast opposite Sly Stallone in Walter Hill's HEADSHOT, a thriller about a hitman (Stallone) who is forced to team-up with a cop (Jane) to take out the bad guys. It's a match made in machismo heaven: Stallone, Jane, Hill - can't get any more badass than that.
Put some muscle on the Studio Sly and keep Jane in there!
Only now it's looking like it may not happen. Dark Castle - the production company that has boarded the project - wants Jane off the picture, to be replaced by somebody more "ethnic". This goes against the wishes of Stallone and Hill, who obviously want Jane for the role, but now the powers-that-be (Joel Silver runs Dark Castle) are making them recast. Naturally, this is something that happens all the time in Hollywood; producers wield their power without pity in the face of the creative teams every day. But this...
This is bullshit. And before you jump to the conclusion that this is a race issue, it's not. Not at all. It's an issue of a studio flexing its muscles and demanding the creative team involved to resort to a "formula" that has worked in the past. For Joel Silver, the formula has worked many times: 48 HRS., LETHAL WEAPON, THE LAST BOY SCOUT, etc. It's not hard to see why he'd want to go back the old reliable "he's white, he's black, they don't like each other but dammit they're going to get the job done!" song and dance. But if Jane is the man the filmmakers want, then he's the man who should get the role. Let's not forget that Walter Hill directed 48 HRS.; you'd think he knows what he's doing. If he wanted to cast someone "ethnic" for the co-lead, he would have.
What makes this even more upsetting is that the response to the Jane news was phenomenal. Almost everyone was excited about the prospect of Jane teaming with Sly for a Walter Hill movie. It would be a damn shame to see this movie manhandled by studio execs in order to become something it doesn't want to be.
Perhaps this will fall on deaf ears, but I'll say this much to Dark Castle (and their home base Warner Bros.): If HEADSHOT is being tangled with in this way and it becomes obvious that Walter Hill's vision is being compromised... I won't be giving the movie my money. I'm certain that I'm not alone.