Frank Langella has the role!

Frank Langella, who’s been getting great reviews for his performance as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, the Peter Morgan play that just opened in Manhattan, scored a major coup by snagging the Nixon role in Ron Howard‘s movie version, which will start shooting in August and come out in the fall of ’08. Howard wanted Warren Beatty as Nixon but apparently Beatty managed to somehow persuade Howard and partner-producer Brian Grazer to reconsider. (I could speculate but I won’t.)

London’s Daily Mail went with this story also, and Variety went with it a little after 9 ayem based on the Daily Mail report.

Howard was right to cast the best man as opposed to casting someone with more marquee value, and thereby deciiding to make the best possible film based on the quality of the merchandise. Like I said earlier, Frost/Nixon film isn’t going to break records no matter who plays Nixon.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Wow, did Opie suddenly realize he actually has some clout, especially in between Dan Brown potboilers? Or did Grazer realize that given that no one really wants to see a Nixon movie anyway, the best shot it has is by being really really good and all over ten-best lists and Oscar noms, and that has a hell of a lot better chance of happening if all the reviews don’t compare Beatty (or whoever) unfavorably to Langella?

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    Oops, don’t even say it. I know my construction of events above doesn’t really make sense in light of how Jeff describes how it went down. What I should have meant and said is: did Opie realize he doesn’t have to rely on the big star crutch (unlikely to make much difference in this case anyway?)

  • Rich S.

    Plus, Mgmax, the movie will be at least $10 million cheaper, so it won’t need to be a blockbuster.

  • Breedlove

    This is really good news. Good for Opie. Really looking forward to seeing the play in a couple of weeks. Anyone know what Jeff meant with his cryptic “I could speculate but I won’t” comment?

  • JD

    I’m really happy to hear this. I just hope the integrity of this casting choice extends to all aspects of the production. With Brian Grazer involved, you never know.

  • RoyBatty

    Maybe this will finally return Langella to the larger roles and meatier parts he once had, the man is long overdue. One of our more seriously underappreciated (by the suits) and underutilized actors still working today.

    Not to mention – good god how wrong would tick-filled Beatty for this role to begin with.

  • Mike

    Now if only Howard could be convinced to hire a better director, this would be a movie to get excited about..

  • Patrick

    I’ve always been a Frank Langella fan (he was

    great playing a Nixon like figure in ‘Dave’)

    and this will be his shot to win an Oscar.

    Oh, Oscar noms and ten best lists didn’t

    help Oliver Stone. This film will be lucky

    to gross $20 million in North America.

  • raj

    huh. i’m curious about this “convinced them otherwise.” remember how beatty also talked his way out of co-starring in boogie nights? burt reynolds ended up being terrific (if maybe a non-professional on set), but i don’t hear about so many other big stars negotiating *out* of roles they’re pursued for. even hackman just delivers flat-out rejections. why does beatty get so involved in the discussion of who would be better suited to the role?

  • Rich S.

    “With Brian Grazer involved, you never know.”

    True. He could decide to set the interviews on the deck of an aircraft carrier that’s under attack. Or maybe Frost will have to avoid certain death to unravel several clues that lead him to Nixon’s hideout deep in the Brazilian rain forest. Or maybe he’ll cast Langella at Frost and Sheen as Nixon – and make them both women.

  • Jack South P.I.

    I’ve already got my tickets to see the play in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait.

  • Mgmax

    Wow, did Opie suddenly realize he actually has some clout, especially in between Dan Brown potboilers? Or did Grazer realize that given that no one really wants to see a Nixon movie anyway, the best shot it has is by being really really good and all over ten-best lists and Oscar noms, and that has a hell of a lot better chance of happening if all the reviews don’t compare Beatty (or whoever) unfavorably to Langella?

  • Mgmax

    Oops, don’t even say it. I know my construction of events above doesn’t really make sense in light of how Jeff describes how it went down. What I should have meant and said is: did Opie realize he doesn’t have to rely on the big star crutch (unlikely to make much difference in this case anyway?)

  • Jack South P.I.

    And I think Howard will knock this thing out of the park. Don’t forget about Apollo 13. It was basically just a bunch of guys with period haircuts standing around and talking. Sure, there were a few explosions here and there but not that many. It was about good men working out problems by talking them through. And it was gripping.

    Some of the family stuff got a little schmaltzy for my taste, but I’m not sure that applies to Front/Nixon unless Morgan really opens is it.

    And who gives a damn about box office? So the yokels don’t go. Who cares? All that matters is if the movie is good.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Oh, and Langella wasn’t vamping Nixon in Dave, he was playing Haldeman.

  • jeffmcm

    Apollo 13 was entertaining…too bad they forgot to have it be _about_ anything. It’s cardboard-thin.

  • Feathers McGraw

    jeffmcm, Apollo 13 was about New Frontier America’s spirit of can-do optimism as embodied by NASA, and a lament for the loss of that attitude. I would have thought that was fairly obvious.

  • jeffmcm

    Fair enough, but it was still thin and lacked subtext, and I would hardly call it a ‘lament’.

    I think it’s Howard’s best movie, by the way.

  • Jack South P.I.

    I disagree, jeffmcm. Apollo 13 was a story of survival that was actually about work. It was also a celebration of intelligence. Instead of the superhero saving the day, it was about the math nerds with their slide-rules working out the physics so they could bring their people home. The heros are not cops, not soldiers, but geeks. And God bless them. (My favorite scene is when they have to figure out how to rig up a new air filter. Gripping!) How many movies can you think of actually celebrate “book” smarts?

    I realize I’m not going to convince you it isn’t “thin.” That’s your reaction and I respect that. I’m just trying to say why I like it. And it contains qualities that I think Howard will bring to Frost/Nixon.

  • jeffmcm

    All the things you like about it are the things I like about it too. I just think it could have/should have been about more.

    I think Frost/Nixon will probably have similar qualities of thinness because Ron Howard has never been a particularly political filmmaker, and this film is all about politics.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Leave the politics to Morgan. He’s a tremendous writer.

  • jeffmcm

    Yes, he was robbed for the Oscar this year.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    “And who gives a damn about box office? So the yokels don’t go. Who cares? All that matters is if the movie is good.”

    Well, the point has been that they were trying for a bigger star for the sake of box office and hopefully realized that their best shot was the best possible movie, not the biggest (late-middle-age, so to speak) star, thus back to Langella in the part. (I wonder if his casting will hurt ticket sales though– for the play.)

  • Mike Schaefer

    “I wonder if his casting will hurt ticket sales though– for the play.”

    I sure hope so — I’ll be in NY in June and I don’t wanna have to buy tix from a scalper. :-)

    Or (worse yet) be forced to see “Xanadu”!

  • Mgmax

    “And who gives a damn about box office? So the yokels don’t go. Who cares? All that matters is if the movie is good.”

    Well, the point has been that they were trying for a bigger star for the sake of box office and hopefully realized that their best shot was the best possible movie, not the biggest (late-middle-age, so to speak) star, thus back to Langella in the part. (I wonder if his casting will hurt ticket sales though– for the play.)

  • EDouglas

    I hate to say I toldja so, Jeff, but I figure that once the reviews started coming in from the first NYC shows, HOward was convinced that casting Langella would be the best thing. I assume Sheen is already on board, too?

  • Cadavra

    Saw the play last week and it’s tremendous. And kudos for doing the right thing by retaining Langella; he’s hardly an unknown, anyway. I also saw him in on Broadway in FORTUNE’S FOOL and MATCH, and the depth of his talent is only matched by his versatility. If there is a God, this could finally net him an Oscar.