Whether or not Ang Lee is one of the best directors in Hollywood is up for debate, but he is certainly one of the most interesting. He’s helmed everything from The Hulk (the Eric Bana version), to Life of Pi, to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and he refuses to be … whatever the directorial version of typecast is.
For further proof of that fact, look no further than the project that Lee just signed on to direct: Gemini Man. According to Deadline, the film will star Will Smith as an aging assassin who must do battle with a younger, fitter (but also less experienced) clone of himself. We’re tempted to be surprised by this news and say “that doesn’t sound like an Ang Lee film,” but the director has proven that he’s equally likely to release a film in any number of different genres.
Word is, this project was in what the industry often refers to as “development hell” and has been making the rounds for nearly two decades. At various times, both Tony Scott (Top Gun) and Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) were considering taking the reigns, several different writers have worked on the script and — before landing with Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Skydance Media — it was once the property of Disney.
The film has been in limbo so long largely due to the fact that it was so ahead of its time. Apparently, the plan was always to have the same actor play both roles (Will Smith, meet William Smith), but turn-of-the-millennium visual effects weren’t quite up to snuff. Since then, actors like Jeff Bridges (Tron: Legacy), Anthony Hopkins (Westworld), and Brad Pitt (The Curious Case Benjamin Button) have all been young-ified for the silver screen, so it seems as though this project has finally cleared the biggest hurdle in its path.
While we joked earlier in this piece about Lee resisting definition as a director, if he’s known for any one thing, it’s probably pushing technical boundaries. In fact, he’s currently working on a 3D film about Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s famous “Thrilla in Manilla” boxing match, which had to be shelved until recently because — you guessed it — the technology he wanted to use didn’t exist yet. He also employed a special type of high-frame-rate photography in making Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and was lauded for the technical wizardry that brought Life Of Pi to life.
Absent any further technical hiccups, the film is scheduled to hit theaters on October 4, 2019. In the meantime, be on the lookout for the aforementioned Thrilla in Manilla (2018), as well as the Will Smith-starring Bright, which will be released this December.