Summit Entertainment’s Highlander reboot has gone through multiple director change-ups over the years, as a result of the project being surprisingly slow to move forward in this current age of reboots/remakes. The most recently-attached helmsman was VFX guru Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, but as he is now gearing up to begin filming this year on The Huntsman (a spinoff of Snow White and the Huntsman, which Trojan served as a second unit director on), it’s possible the director’s chair on Highlander has been vacated yet again.
Similarly, Ryan Reynolds was once onboard to headline the Highlander reboot, but he ended up dropping out; and as of right now, the protagonist role in the project remains up for grabs. However, we’re now hearing that the part of the villain has been filled – by none other than fan-favorite wrestler-turned actor Dave Bautista.
Latino Review is reporting that Bautista is lined up to play the villain (a.k.a. The Kurgan) of the upcoming Highlander franchise reboot. If accurate, that would make this the latest high-profile project to have cast Bautista as a threatening antagonist, seeing as he’s also playing a dangerous henchman in the next James Bond movie Spectre (which is currently filming), as well as the villainous Tong Po in the upcoming Kickboxer reboot costarring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The Kurgan, for those unfamiliar, is a fierce barbarian played by Clancy Brown in the original 1986 Highlander movie directed by Russell Mulcahy. The character’s backstory was eventually fleshed out in subsequent Highlander films, novels, and the 1990s live-action TV series, but in Mulcahy’s first installment he’s a straight-forward obstacle for protagonist Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert). These immortal warriors are both members of an clan, who must battle one another over the centuries until just one remains, in order to gain a legendary power.
Bautista has already settled into his acting niche: bringing gruff muscle-heads to life onscreen (see: The Man with the Iron Fists, Riddick). However, he’s also shown he can play that same archetype for laughs, as he did last year when he portrayed Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. Highlander will presumably call on Bautista to keep a straight face as The Kurgan, though it’s possible the director (whoever it ends up being) may inject some humor into the proceedings, rather than play things more dead serious and po-faced – meaning, Bautista might get to put his comedic timing to good use.
It also depends, in part, on what the Highlander reboot screenplay calls for, in terms of tone and approach towards the action/fantasy property’s lore. If nothing else, he film will almost certainly have something of a dark superhero movie vibe to it; not just because that’s the popular style nowadays, but also because an earlier script draft was penned by Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (Iron Man, Punisher: War Zone), before Melissa Rosenberg (showrunner on the upcoming Marvel/Netflix series A.K.A. Jessica Jones) revised their draft.
As for the remainder of the Highlander reboot cast: a replacement for Reynolds as the lead has yet to emerge, while the role of MacLeod’s mentor Ramirez – played by Sean Connery in the 1986 film version – has reportedly been offered to Tom Cruise… which in no way means he’ll accept it, though. However, if the film’s villain has indeed now been found, then presumably more casting updates will be following soon – along with updates on the production start/release date, hopefully.
We’ll bring you more information on Highlander when we have it.