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HOLLYWOOD (CAP) - Another comics icon soon will be leaping off the pages and landing on the big screen as Warner Bros. has announced plans for a live action adaptation of Archie. However, in the upcoming film tentatively named Dark Archie, America's favorite high school chum will get a much-needed gritty, morally ambiguous makeover.
"Archie: Return To Riverdale didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to," said Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov, referring to the little-seen 1990 TV movie featuring Archie, Jughead and the rest of his comic book pals. "Now the plan is just to reintroduce Archie. We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the character and the PG-13 rating allows it."
What that means, say those close to the project - to be directed by McG (Charlie's Angels, Terminator: Salvation) - is a sort of "Riverdale 90210," wherein the Archie gang grapples with real-life issues of drugs, teen sex and urban violence.
"Especially the teen sex," said Robinov, adding that Blake Lively of Gossip Girl has already been cast as Archie's devoted but sexually ambiguous girlfriend Betty, and Lindsay Lohan was in talks to play Veronica, the slutty rich girl with whom Archie has unprotected sex in his jalopy convertible.
"The old Archie was fine for the Mayberry days, but these are different times," said McG, discussing his vision for the film. "In the 21st century, people want an Archie who knows what it's like to kill a man with his bare hands."
Archie has yet to be cast, although McG says they hope to find an unknown for the role, "ideally a young Matthew Broderick type, if Mathew Broderick had done a lot of ecstasy," he said. But generating the most early buzz is the screen test by Benjamin McKenzie of TV's The O.C., who is said to be "positively chilling" in his role as "The Jughead."
McKenzie says he's "slept an average of two hours a night" since he started researching the role of The Jughead, whom he describes as "a psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy, and an unnatural love of hamburgers."
"I can't stop thinking [at night]. My body is exhausted, and my mind is still going," said McKenzie. "I'm wondering, what drives a man to eat that many hamburgers? And wear a gray crown beanie? And let his bushy sheepdog, Hot Dog, slobber on him uncontrollably?"
"Frankly, I don't think I could handle the role if it wasn't for all the ecstasy," he admitted.
Rounding out the cast will be Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights as Archie's nemesis, Reggie, who in the new version will be horribly scarred in a boiler room accident at Riverdale High, and Tyler James Williams of Everybody Hates Chris as a new character, Leroy the OxyContin dealer. And in an unusual move, the principal, Mr. Weatherbee, will be played by the late Marlon Brando, using unused footage cobbled together from Apocalypse Now and The Island of Dr. Moreau.
"It's clear from The Dark Knight that audiences want dark versions of beloved characters, so that's what we're going to give them, almost exclusively," concluded Robinov, who is also working with director Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Basic Instinct) on casting a reboot of the classic comic Little Lulu.
For that film, "we're looking for a goth Lindsay Lohan type, only much, much sluttier," he said.
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