It was announced back in 2015 that Papillon — the Steve McQueen movie about a prisoner attempting escape that isn’t The Great Escape — is getting remade by Danish director Michael Noer (via the production company Red Granite, which, interestingly, may itself be in some trouble with the law). Charlie Hunnam had already been rumored to be playing McQueen’s character for a bit, and now The Hollywood Reporter has some additional casting news: Mr. Robot’s breakout star Rami Malek is in talks to play the other main character in the (rather harrowing) buddy film.
The role he’d be taking on, Louis Dega, was originally played by Dustin Hoffman. The 1973 film, based on the memoir by Henri Charrière, who, at least per the book was imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Set in the 1930s, the film follows the character of the same name after he’s wrongly convicted for killing a pimp and incarcerated on Devil’s Island in French Guiana. There, he befriends Dega, a counterfeiter who decides to help him with his escape plans:
Despite that photo, the tone of the film is actually exceedingly serious, and it sees McQueen’s character suffering through years and multiple sentences of solitary confinement. In 2013, when the film turned 40, Andrew Cohen had written in The Atlantic that Papillon is “still relevant to the deplorable treatment of inmates in America’s prisons today…Today if you watch Papillon—for the first or the 100th time—you are immediately struck by the similarities between the way French colonial authorities mistreated prisoners a century ago and the way U.S. authorities, on both the state and federal level, mistreat inmates in our own time.”
This all seems topical amidst the current discussion of necessary reforms to the American prison system, and in conjunction with a widely reported solitary confinement story: that of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who could face solitary following a suicide attempt — itself made following extensive solitary confinement. (Manning recently penned a piece condemning the practice in the Guardian.)
Watch the trailer for the original: