The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a 2015
British-American action comedy spy film directed by Guy Ritchie, and
co-written by Lionel Wigram and Ritchie, based on the 1964 MGM
television series of the same name, which was created by Ian Fleming,
Norman Felton and Sam Rolfe. The film stars Henry Cavill, Armie
Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant. The film
was released on August 14th, 2015 and grossed over $100 million worldwide.
John Davis optioned the film rights to the 1960s TV series in 1993,
setting up a development deal for an adaptation with Warner Bros. and
series producer Norman Felton. Davis has estimated that he
commissioned 12 or 14 different scripts over the course of 20 years,
with writers Jim and John Thomas, John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, and
Scott Z. Burns. Quentin Tarantino was briefly attached following the
success of Pulp Fiction, but opted to make Jackie Brown instead. The
Man from U.N.C.L.E. continued to labor in development hell with
directors Matthew Vaughn and David Dobkin.
In November 2010, George Clooney showed
interest in the film, and was in talks for the lead role of Napoleon
Solo. Steven Soderbergh was attached to direct Scott Z. Burns'
screenplay, with production slated to begin in March 2012 and it was
set to become a reunion project for director Soderbergh and Clooney,
frequent collaborators who hadn't worked together since 2007's
"Ocean's Thirteen." Clooney had to drop out due to a
recurring back injury suffered while shooting "Syriana,"
after which Bradley Cooper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling,
Channing Tatum, Alexander Skarsgard, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson,
Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Michael Fassbender, Joel Kinnaman, Chris
Pine, Jon Hamm and Ryan Reynolds (so, you know, pretty much every
male in Hollywood over the age of 25) were all considered for the
followed Clooney and dropped out in late 2011 after a dispute over
the film's budget, which Warner Bros. wanted to keep at $60 million,
a decidedly low figure for a film with period sets and international
locales. The project then went to one of WB's favored directors, Guy
Ritchie and things pretty much stalled from there. Until March 18th,
2013, when Tom Cruise was in early talks to take the lead in the film
as Napoleon Solo with Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin. Then on May
23rd, 2013 Cruise left the film project because he wanted to
concentrate on his upcoming Mission: Impossible 5 and the project
stalled again. But not for long. British actor Henry Cavill (fresh
off playing Superman) was cast to replace Cruise as Napoleon Solo. In
2005, Cavill was a final choice for the role of James Bond in Casino
Royale. The producers and director Martin Campbell were torn between
him and Daniel Craig; reportedly Campbell supported Cavill but the
producers preferred an older Bond. Craig ultimately landed the role.
Cavill may have missed out on Bond but in playing Napoleon Solo he
gets a chance to be an Ian Fleming spy anyway since Fleming had a
hand in creating the original Solo character for the TV series. The
Bond producers had Fleming drop out of the U.N.C.L.E. TV project
before the pilot aired on NBC-TV fearing his involvement in a "TV
show" would not reflect well on the immensely popular Bond
films. One of Fleming's cotributions to the TV series was the name
"Solo" (as well as April Dancer who was originally to be Mr
Waverly's secretary). Some elements of Fleming's Solo (from a memo
reproduced in Time Life's DVD box set of the series) that didn't make
it into Norman Felton and Sam Rolfe's TV show, like his penchant for
cooking, manifest themselves in Guy Ritchie's Solo.
join Armie Hammer was cast in the second lead role as Illya Kuryakin
on April 24th, 2013, with Cruise set as Solo. Hammer's paternal
great-grandmother was Russian-born actress and singer Olga Vadimovna
Vadina (aka Von Root), the daughter of a tsarist general. His
paternal Great-Grandfather, Armand Hammer was an American business
manager and owner, most closely associated with Occidental Petroleum,
a company he ran from 1957 until his death, though he was known as
well for his art collection, his philanthropy, and for his close ties
to the Soviet Union.
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander joined the
film on May 8th, 2013, as the female lead. Emily Blunt was nearly
cast as the female lead when Soderbergh attached to the project.
Elizabeth Debicki was cast in a femme fatale role on July 31st, 2013;
Rose Byrne and Charlize Theron were earlier considered for the same
part. On August 8th, 2013, Hugh Grant joined the cast as Alexander
Waverly, the head of United Network Command for Law and Enforcement
(U.N.C.L.E). Jared Harris was cast as Saunders on September 4th,
2013, and Luca Calvani was cast as a villain, Alexander. Simona
Caparrini was also cast to play Contessa.
Principal photography on the film
commenced on September 9th, 2013. In October 2013, filming took place
at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Royal Victoria Docks,
London and Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit in West Sussex, UK.
took place in various locations throughout Italy, including the Gulf
of Naples, and Baiae Castle. Kuryakin and Teller's first outings as
an assumed couple were shot at just below the Spanish Steps; the
Grand Hotel Plaza, in Via del Corso; and in the gardens of antic
Theater of Marcellus.
Two locations stood in place for Berlin
sites on either side of the wall: the public toilet fight between
Solo and Kuryakin was shot in Regent's Park in London, while the car
chase during the movie's first act was shot in Chatham Historic
Director Guy Ritchie finalized the script
throughout production: "Hes quite intuitive and tends to
constantly rewrite stuff, which he does even when theyre
shooting. Hell rewrite things in the morning if theyre
shooting that day, working with the actors if something doesnt
feel right." says long term collaborator David Allcock.
The musical score for The Man from
U.N.C.L.E. was composed by Daniel Pemberton. A soundtrack album was
released by WaterTower Music on August 7th, 2015. The film was
originally set for a January 16th, 2015 release, but on August 12th,
2014, Warner Bros moved the film's release date to August 14th, 2015.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. grossed $45
million in North America and $55.1 million in other territories for a
worldwide total of slightly over $100 million, against a budget of
$75 million. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $13.4 million,
which was about $5 million below expectations, finishing 3rd at the
box office. Critics called the film, "an uneven action thriller
with just enough style to overcome its lack of substance."
Still, audiences (and fans of the original TV series) seemed to like
it. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 68%, with an average
rating of 6.2/10. On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average
grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Henry Cavill as Napoleon
Henry Cavill (born 5 May 5th 1983) is a
British actor who began his acting career starring as Albert Mondego
in the 2002 film adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. He would
later star in minor and supporting roles in television shows such as
BBC's The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Midsomer Murders and The Tudors
before transitioning to more mainstream Hollywood films such as
Tristan & Isolde, Stardust and Immortals.
In 2008, Cavill became the face and
official spokesperson of the Dunhill fragrance collection for men
campaign. He was also cast in the main ensemble of the 2007 Showtime
series The Tudors, starring as Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk
until the series' end in 2010. Cavill would gain further prominence
and international fame playing the titular superhero Superman in the
2013 reboot film Man of Steel, which became a commercial success and
the highest-grossing Superman film of all time, a role that he will
reprise in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League:
Parts 1 and 2.
was born the fourth of five boys on the Bailiwick of Jersey in the
Channel Islands His mother, Marianne, was a secretary in a bank, and
his father, Colin, a stockbroker. He was educated at St. Michael's
Preparatory School in Saint Saviour, Jersey, before attending Stowe
School near Buckingham, north Buckinghamshire, England.
Cavill had been set to play Superman in
McG's 2004 film, Superman: Flyby. However, McG pulled out of the
project and direction was taken over by director Bryan Singer, who
recast Brandon Routh as the lead in Superman Returns. Cavill was also
the cause of a write-in effort from fans to see him cast as Cedric
Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005). The role
eventually went to Robert Pattinson. Stephenie Meyer, the author of
the Twilight series, was outspokenly in favour of Cavill playing the
character of Edward Cullen in the Twilight film, calling him her
"perfect Edward". However, by the time production of the
film began, Cavill was too old to play the character, and again the
role went to Pattinson.
In 2005, Cavill was one of the final
choices for the role of James Bond in Casino Royale. The producers
and director Martin Campbell were torn between him and Daniel Craig;
reportedly Campbell supported Cavill but the producers preferred an
older Bond. Craig ultimately landed the role. Despite reports that he
was a contender for Batman in Batman Begins, Cavill confirmed that he
never auditioned for nor was offered the role.
In 2009, Cavill began dating British
equestrian rider Ellen Whitaker after they had met at the Olympia
London International Horse Show. They became engaged in May 2011. In
May 2012, the pair ended their engagement.
Cavil and The Big Bang Theory star Kaley
Cuoco dated for 10 days in the summer of 2013 under the watchful eye
of the paparazzi. "I had no one following me until I met
Superman," Kaley, told Cosmopolitan Magazine of her relationship
with Cavil. "Ive been in this business for 20 years, and
my whole life, I could go anywhere, do anything. There had not been
one paparazzi photo of me until like several months ago. The
recognition was crazy."
Armie Hammer as Illya
Armand "Armie" Hammer (born
August 28th, 1986) is an American actor known for his portrayal of
the Winklevoss twins in the 2010 film The Social Network, Clyde
Tolson in J. Edgar (2011), Prince Andrew Alcott in Mirror Mirror
(2012) and the title character in the 2013 feature film The Lone
Ranger (which we kind of liked).
Hammer was born in Los Angeles,
California. His mother, Dru Ann, is a former bank loan officer, and
his father, Michael Armand Hammer, owns several businesses, including
Knoedler Publishing and Armand Hammer Productions (a film/television
production company). He has a younger brother, Viktor.
Hammer's paternal great-grandfather was
oil tycoon and philanthropist Armand Hammer. Armand's own parents
were Russian Jewish immigrants, and Armand's father, Julius Hammer,
who was from Odessa, "founded the Communist Party in New
York." Armie's paternal great-grandmother was Russian-born
actress and singer Olga Vadimovna Vadina (aka Von Root), the daughter
of a tsarist general. His paternal grandmother was from Texas, while
his mother's family is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2013, genealogical
research by staff members of Ancestry.com stated that one of his
eight times great-grandfathers was Cherokee chief Kanagatucko.
Hammer dropped out of high school in
eleventh grade to pursue an acting career (but subsequently, he took
college courses). In 2012, Hammer stated that "for all intents
and purposes", his parents disowned him when he dropped out of
high school and began acting, but are now supportive of him and proud
of his work.
After appearing in the television series
Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, Reaper and Desperate Housewives, Hammer
played the Christian evangelist Billy Graham in Billy: The Early
Years, which premiered in October 2008.
In 2007, Hammer was hand-picked by
filmmaker George Miller, after a long search, to star in Justice
League: Mortal as Batman/Bruce Wayne. The film was to be directed by
Miller, but Miller left the project. In 2010, Hammer co-starred in
David Fincher's The Social Network, about the creation of Facebook.
He portrayed the identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, with
Josh Pence, using CGI. Hammer stated that he had to learn how to row
on both sides of a boat in order to play the twins, who are rowing
champions. In January 2012, he would voice the Winklevoss twins in an
episode of The Simpsons titled "The D'oh-cial Network".
Hammer married television personality
Elizabeth Chambers on May 22nd, 2010, and their wedding was featured
in the January 2011 issue of Town & Country. On December 1st,
2014, Hammer and Chambers welcomed a baby girl, Harper.
Alicia Vikander as Gaby Teller
Alicia Vikander (born October 3rd 1988) is
a Swedish actress and dancer. Vikander began her career by appearing
in Swedish short films and television series, most notably in the
popular TV drama Andra Avenyn (200811). She made her feature
film debut in the film Pure (2010), for which she won the Guldbagge
Award for Best Actress. Vikander gained international attention when
she appeared in the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina, co-starred in
the Academy Award-nominated Danish film A Royal Affair (2012) and in
the Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate (2013). In 2015, she
gained public recognition for her starring roles in the films
Testament of Youth, Ex Machina, The Danish Girl and Burnt (2015) with
Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller.
Vikander was born in Gothenburg, the
daughter of Maria Fahl Vikander, a stage actress, and Svante
Vikander, a psychiatrist. Her parents are from small villages in the
north and south of Sweden, respectively and separated when Vikander
was five months old, and she was mostly raised by her single mother.
She has five siblings on her father's side and while growing up,
Vikander says she got the best of both worlds, being an only child to
her mother and being surrounded by a big family when she went to her
fathers house every second week.
She trained ballet with the Royal Swedish
Ballet School from the age of nine in Gothenburg. At the age of 15,
Vikander moved from Gothenburg to train at its upper school in
Stockholm where she lived on her own, aiming to become a principal
dancer. She appeared in several musicals at the Gothenburg Opera,
such as The Sound of Music, Les Misérables and would travel
around the world for summer courses, training one summer at the
School of American Ballet. Her dance career was sidelined by injuries
in her late teens and she ended up auditioning for drama school but
was turned down, twice. Vikander was admitted to law school but she
never attended, instead following her dream to become an actress.
Vikander was named as one of the 10 Actors
to Watch: Breakthrough Performances of 2012 at the 20th Hamptons
International Film Festival, was nominated for BAFTA Rising Star
Award in 2013.
Elizabeth Debicki as Victoria
Elizabeth Debicki (born August 1990) is an
Australian stage and film actress. After making her feature film
debut in A Few Best Men (2011), she appeared in The Great Gatsby
(2013) and starred in Sydney Theatre Company production of The Maids,
for which she received a nomination for the Helpmann Award.
Debicki was born in Paris to a Polish
father and an Australian mother, who were both ballet dancers. When
she was five, the family moved to Melbourne, where she grew up with
two younger siblings. She became interested in ballet at an early age
and trained as a dancer until deciding to switch to theatre. A
student at Huntingtower School in Melbourne's east, Debicki achieved
two perfect study scores in Drama and English and was the school's
dux when she graduated in 2007. In 2010, she completed a degree in
drama at the University of Melbourne's Victorian College of the Arts.
In August 2009, she was the recipient of a Richard Pratt Bursary for
outstanding acting students in their second year of training.
Debicki made her film debut with a brief
appearance in the 2011 film A Few Best Men. After seeing Debicki's
audition reel, director Baz Luhrmann flew her to auditions in Los
Angeles. In May 2011, Luhrmann announced that she had been cast as
Jordan Baker in his 2013 film The Great Gatsby.
While co-starring in the Guy
Ritchie-directed film adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. she
learned to drive on the set.
Hugh Grant as Mr Waverly
Hugh Grant (born September 9th 1960) is an
English actor and film producer. He has received a Golden Globe, a
BAFTA, and an Honorary César. His films have earned more than
US$2.4 billion from 25 theatrical releases worldwide. Grant achieved
international success after appearing in the Richard Curtis-scripted
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). He used this breakthrough role as
a frequent cinematic persona during the 1990s, delivering comic
performances in mainstream films like Mickey Blue Eyes (1999) and
Notting Hill (1999) and established himself as a leading man skilled
with a satirical comic talent. Grant has expanded his oeuvre with
critically acclaimed turns as a cad in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001),
About a Boy (2002), and American Dreamz (2006). He later played
against type with multiple cameo roles in the epic sci-fi drama film
Cloud Atlas (2012).
Within the film industry, Grant is cited
as an anti-star who approaches his roles like a character actor, and
attempts to make his acting appear spontaneous. Hallmarks of his
comic skills include a nonchalant touch of irony/sarcasm and studied
physical mannerisms as well as his precisely-timed dialogue delivery
and facial expressions. The entertainment media's coverage of Grant's
life off the big screen has often overshadowed his work as an actor.
He has been outspoken about his disrespect for the profession of
acting, and in his disdain towards the culture of celebrity and
hostility towards the media. In a career spanning 30 years, Grant has
repeatedly claimed that acting is not a true calling but just a job
he fell into.