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Cast This: Shaft

04.08.2016

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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!

shaft 1971 movie richard roundtree

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.

shaft 1971 movie

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.

shaft casting reboot movie

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...

RESULTS FROM CAST THIS: THE HIGHLANDER 1. James McAvoy 2. Sam Heughan 3. Thomas Jane

highlander cast this movie

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.
Source: JoBlo.com

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11:23PM on 04/08/2016
Anthony Mackie
Anthony Mackie
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8:43PM on 04/08/2016
Daisy Ridley or Melissa McCarthy.
Daisy Ridley or Melissa McCarthy.
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7:38PM on 04/08/2016

Nate Parker

He's a great actor. Can't wait to see Birth of a Nation
He's a great actor. Can't wait to see Birth of a Nation
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6:20PM on 04/08/2016

Well... It's obvious:

Ryan Kwanten !
Ryan Kwanten !
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-1
5:16PM on 04/08/2016

First off, I'm really glad this column is a regular feature again...

...for a while there it was sadly MIA. As to the casting itself, my first pick would hands down be the Denzel. However, having him be in this and The Equalizer would be like having an actor play both Bond and Jack Ryan, I'm sure the studios would never go for it even if the actor were game. I know Elba's name gets tossed around for literally everything but I really do think he'd be absolutely perfect in this, although I do like the Wesley Snipes suggestion as well. Give him a decade and I think
...for a while there it was sadly MIA. As to the casting itself, my first pick would hands down be the Denzel. However, having him be in this and The Equalizer would be like having an actor play both Bond and Jack Ryan, I'm sure the studios would never go for it even if the actor were game. I know Elba's name gets tossed around for literally everything but I really do think he'd be absolutely perfect in this, although I do like the Wesley Snipes suggestion as well. Give him a decade and I think Michael B. Jordan would do well, but he still feels a little too young even for an "origin" film. If you want a younger star I'd go with Chadwicke Boseman, he's talented, can definitely pull off the 70's era vibe and this would be a nice way to use his Marvel casting as a springboard rather than letting it dominate his career.
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4:04PM on 04/08/2016
I actually liked the Samuel l. Jackson version. I didn't even know it wasn't the same character. For this new one I'd go with Common.
I actually liked the Samuel l. Jackson version. I didn't even know it wasn't the same character. For this new one I'd go with Common.
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3:57PM on 04/08/2016
Idris out of the 3, but I too, immediately thought of Mike Colter aka Luke Cage
Idris out of the 3, but I too, immediately thought of Mike Colter aka Luke Cage
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3:14PM on 04/08/2016

Of the three you listed, Idris Elba

he'd be perfect in the role. Wesley Snipes would be fine if he behaved himself, but Eddie Murphy: HELL NO!

If you're looking to go young, Mike Colter. If you want really young, John Boyega: I can see him becoming the next Denzel Washington.
he'd be perfect in the role. Wesley Snipes would be fine if he behaved himself, but Eddie Murphy: HELL NO!

If you're looking to go young, Mike Colter. If you want really young, John Boyega: I can see him becoming the next Denzel Washington.
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3:08PM on 04/08/2016
of those you have listed, I would go with Idris. Michael B Jordan seems to be getting all the work and would be good, if you're wanting to go young.
of those you have listed, I would go with Idris. Michael B Jordan seems to be getting all the work and would be good, if you're wanting to go young.
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2:53PM on 04/08/2016

Idris Elba

Cast him or don't even bother making the movie, as for Highlander, just don't bother.
Cast him or don't even bother making the movie, as for Highlander, just don't bother.
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2:52PM on 04/08/2016
That original three minute trailer is ten times cooler than 90% of the films today.
That original three minute trailer is ten times cooler than 90% of the films today.
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1:58PM on 04/08/2016

Alright alright

Idris all the way. Dude is a rockstar who can do no wrong. Different but same level as Denzel in my opinion.
Idris all the way. Dude is a rockstar who can do no wrong. Different but same level as Denzel in my opinion.
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1:34PM on 04/08/2016
Idris Elba all the way.
Idris Elba all the way.
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12:25PM on 04/08/2016

Bokeem Woodbine

It would never happen, but the man has the presence and attitude to pull something like this off.
It would never happen, but the man has the presence and attitude to pull something like this off.
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+0
12:11PM on 04/08/2016
Idris or Snipes
Idris or Snipes
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11:54AM on 04/08/2016
Jamie Foxx. Can you dig it?
Jamie Foxx. Can you dig it?
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+2
11:49AM on 04/08/2016
Mike Colter from Jessica Jones.
Mike Colter from Jessica Jones.
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11:40AM on 04/08/2016
Idris Elba for me. The guy was awesome as Luther. He can be a real cool Shaft.
Idris Elba for me. The guy was awesome as Luther. He can be a real cool Shaft.
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11:21AM on 04/08/2016
I could see Anthony Mackie as Shaft
I could see Anthony Mackie as Shaft
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10:52AM on 04/08/2016
Idris Elba could pull this off EASILY! This is a tough call but maybe Morris Chestnut, D.B Woodside or even Michael Ealy.
Idris Elba could pull this off EASILY! This is a tough call but maybe Morris Chestnut, D.B Woodside or even Michael Ealy.
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10:49AM on 04/08/2016
Maybe they should try doing Shaft as a timewarp type character where he's still the exact same character as the original.
Don't play it for comedy though, he's just a bad ass who does not care that it's a different era now.
Maybe they should try doing Shaft as a timewarp type character where he's still the exact same character as the original.
Don't play it for comedy though, he's just a bad ass who does not care that it's a different era now.
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10:36AM on 04/08/2016
Richard Roundtree is and always will be Shaft. This is definitely a reboot/ remake/ what -the fuck-ever that I don't think should happen. Shaft should stay in the 70s. I'm not saying that is a bad movie that doesn't hold-up, I'm actually saying the exact opposite. It fits the ideals of the 70s and it holds up very well. The character in essence is very 70s and I don't see him translating well in to modern day.
Richard Roundtree is and always will be Shaft. This is definitely a reboot/ remake/ what -the fuck-ever that I don't think should happen. Shaft should stay in the 70s. I'm not saying that is a bad movie that doesn't hold-up, I'm actually saying the exact opposite. It fits the ideals of the 70s and it holds up very well. The character in essence is very 70s and I don't see him translating well in to modern day.
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