When news broke that a “Gambit” remake was in the works, I could almost feel the collective brows raising among the legions of classic film aficionados.
Granted, said remake has Joel and Ethan Coen behind the script, fresh off their biggest box office success ever with “True Grit,” as well as recent Oscar-winner Colin Firth playing Harry Tristan Dean, the role established by treasured thespian Michael Caine. But then came word that Cameron Diaz is playing Nicole Chang, a role that Shirley MacLaine made famous in the 1966 original. Diaz isn’t the most obvious successor to MacLaine, sure, but maybe she doesn’t need to be.
When I caught up with Diaz recently as she was rushing into the Vanity Fair Oscar party on Sunday, I asked her how prep was going on the film. Our exchange was brief, but she assured me that the “Gambit” remake is very much its own entity — in other words, don’t expect her to channel Shirley MacLaine for her upcoming performance.
“I’m very excited about ’Gambit,'” she said. “It’s a whole new [movie]. It’s very different from [the original], yes.”
And now she gets to work alongside not just respected actor Colin Firth, but Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth.
“I know, it’s so exciting!” she said. “I hope to see him in there tonight.”
In their new version of “Gambit,” Firth stars as a London art curator who seeks to con a rich collector into purchasing a phony painting. As part of his plot, he recruits a Texas steer roper (Diaz) to pose as the granddaughter of the man who liberated the painting during World War II. Can Firth and Diaz join together to deliver a “Gambit” remake that lives up to the original? The jury is still out, but Diaz seems enthusiastic at the very least.
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