Let’s play, “Cast That 1980s Comedy Remake.” Here’s how it works. I say, “Big," you say current "SNL" funnyman Bill Hader. Get it? I say, “Short Circuit," you say…loveable Pixar robot WALL-E. That’s right, well done! Try out the 1981 Dudley Moore boozy screwball comedy, “Arthur.” If you said anyone besides British comedian Russell Brand you a) should be ashamed of yourself and b) haven’t been reading the trades.
Brand is set to star in a Warner Bros. remake of “Arthur,” which followed an alcoholic ladies’ man who must marry a wealthy woman so he can keep his own enormous family fortune. When Brand stopped by the MTV News offices to chat about the release of his autobiography, “My Booky Wook” (which -- spoiler! -- recounts his years as a drug-abusing womanizer), he revealed some exclusive details about the upcoming “Arthur” production.
While much of the remake will inevitably cover new territory, many elements will stay true to the original, including the location and soundtrack.
“Yes, New York,” Brand confirmed when we asked about the film’s setting, through which Moore’s Arthur was driven in a Rolls-Royce, picking up Times Square hookers and eventually falling in love with a waitress/actress/shoplifter played by Liza Minnelli.
Another thread of continuity between the original and the remake will be those fantastically cheesy Burt Bacharach-penned tunes, one of which—the classic lovelorn balled, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” performed by Christopher Cross—won an Oscar for Best Song.
“I think people will cover those songs from the original,” Brand told us.
The “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” star had less to reveal about “Arthur” plot details, which are just now being hashed out after a screenwriter was hired in February. That writer is Peter Baynham, a veteran of British comedy and a recent collaborator on Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” and “Bruno” films.
For the moment, Brand simply seems pleased with the mere idea of embodying a classic character from a beloved 1980s comedy.
“I’m remaking Arthur!” he declared. “I’m going to make him out of flesh I find on the subway.”
While Baynham is busy on the screenplay, casting for the major roles is underway. But Brand was reluctant to spill any inside info, including news of who will play the role of Arthur’s trusty butler Hobson (John Gielgud won an Oscar for that role in the original).
“We’re casting at the moment,” said Brand. “There are going to be some surprise decisions made vis-à-vis that.”
What about dear Liza—will she be making a cameo?
“She is playing the love interest,” Brand joked of the 63-year-old actress. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That’s my motto. Liza worked in the first film, she will work in this and any subsequent films.”
Do you think Brand can deliver a satisfying take on Dudley Moore’s iconic role? Who else would you cast in a remake of a '80s classic movie?