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Culture: James Bond to play Satan... Twice?
Monday, 05 March 2007 Written by Alexander G. Rubio
Cover to the comic book
Lucifer #19 "A Dalliance
with the Damned"
art by Christopher Moeller
(Click for larger image)
Actor Daniel Craig has undoubtedly taken the James Bond franchise in a darker direction. But he's headed for darker regions still, playing the Prince of Darkness himself, perhaps twice, if The New York Times is to be trusted, which, come to think of it, is less than in times gone by.

As we reported back on the 12th of October 2005, and again on the 21th of April last year, the success and ungodly profits reaped by Mel Gibson's snuff film "The Passion of the Christ", inspired a couple of would be film moguls to hitch a ride on the Christian box-office gravy train with an unlikely vehicle, 17th century poet John Milton's epic poem on man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden and Satan's fall from grace, "Paradise Lost".

But at that time was no information on who might play the anti-hero of the poem, Lucifer. We did however report another piece of casting on the 20th of April 2006, that the new James Bond, Daniel Craig was to play Lucifer, in the adaptation of the bestselling novel by Glen Duncan, "I, Lucifer". And last we heard, he was still set to do the part.

From this...
The story involves God giving Satan one last crack at redemption. He must live out a blameless life as a normal human being. Lucifer, having no intention of taking God up on his offer, negotiates a "try before you buy" period of 1 Month as a human in London, time he intends to spend putting the body, belonging to suicidal writer Declan Gunn, played by Ewan McGregor, through as much sex, drugs and rock and roll he can possibly cram into one month. But the tangible reality of life makes him contemplate reconsidering.

... to this?
Which sounds like it could make for a cracking good film, and one which could be made within a reasonable budget. And which brings us back to the film version of "Paradise Lost", which will probably fail on both counts.

Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull saw some of the problems with filming the poem "as is". But he also saw the solution: “if you get past the Milton of it all, and think about the greatest war that’s ever been fought, the story itself is pretty compelling”. Milton scholars, retreat to the caves!

Vincent Newman is co-producer, and horror veteran Scott Derrickson will be directing, from a script by Phil DiBlasi, Stuart Hazeldine and Byron Willinger.
As with any Hollywood development project, things are changing along the way. The original script hewed a bit too closely to Milton for the producer’s taste, for instance. Mr. Newman, by his own account, told the writers he wanted “less Adam and Eve and more about what’s happening with the archangels,” the battle in Heaven between God’s and Satan’s armies.

“In Eden there’s the nudity problem,” he pointed out, “which would be a big problem for a big studio movie.”
All of which makes even their guesstimated "in the range of $100 million" sound like a tad on the skimpy side. The FX budget alone for the battles of the Host of Heaven and the Legions of Lucifer should bust that. But what price, when it “could be like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ or bigger,” according to Newman. He also goes on to say that Daniel Craig and Heath Ledger are two of his top choices for playing Lucifer.

As someone who loves the poetry of Milton, and movies, I have two good reasons to think this project misguided. They'd be far better off, and perhaps even on to a franchise, by adapting the majestic comic book series "Lucifer", which spun off from Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series, and which in the hands of writer Mike Carey grew to rival that series for depth and quality.