Cast This: Shaft
In 1971 a little movie called SHAFT, directed by Gordon Parks, was released and, subsequently, gave prominence to the American Blaxploitation genre making Detective John Shaft a household name. Fast forward 45 years and we’re on our way to a reboot!
The original film is mostly an action piece with elements of film noir that follows the story of private detective, John Shaft (played by Richard Roundtree), who travels through Harlem and to the Italian mob neighborhoods in order to find the missing daughter of a black mobster.
Most people identify with the movie because of its killer soundtrack; the SHAFT soundtrack album, recorded by Isaac Hayes, was a huge success as the "Theme from Shaft" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and has appeared on multiple Top 100 lists, including AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs. In 2000 Shaft was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." You’re damn right!
There was a sort-of sequel to SHAFT in 2000 starring Samuel L. Jackson as the nephew of the original John Shaft. The actual reboot was announced last year when it was reported that Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and The Goldberg executive producer Alex Barnow were brought on board to script the movie. I watched SHAFT again a few weeks ago after having only seen it once a long time ago. The movie holds up pretty well and is actually grittier than I remember; I would hope that if we were to be given a reboot today, it would try and capture that same tone. We could go on forever on what we would want out of the movie itself, but we’re here today to discuss the most important element, and that’s the casting of Shaft.
I love a good comeback story and that’s probably why two of my picks may seem way out of left field. First up, Eddie Murphy. That’s right, Pluto Nash himself as John Shaft. Can you dig it? I sat back and really tried to picture him in some more dramatic scenes from the original movie and surprisingly it worked for me. This could be a great turn for him and having been so close to that Oscar for his great work in DREAMGIRLS, you never know what a dramatic role like this could do in terms of resurgence.
Then I’m looking at Wesley Snipes, another actor whose personal life seemed to cast a shadow on his past and present career. Sure we got to see him in THE EXPENDABLES 3, but that was pretty much a vehicle for any actor with a questionable reputation or mug shot. This guy has real talent as an action star and with a noir twist it could really make for a wonderful watch. Finally, Idris Elba. He’s already played a near-genius murder detective on Luther, so this isn’t too much of a stretch for him, but man, how awesome would it be for us to see him walking the streets to some the theme from SHAFT? He could even bring along his famous tweed coat for good measure.
So who's our black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks? The man that would risk his neck for his brother man? Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about? Let's get to work and cast this bad mother...
|Extra Tidbit:||Isaac Hayes auditioned for the title role. Producers cast Richard Roundtree, but were so impressed with Hayes that they asked him to write the now legendary score to the film.|