A few days ago, it was announced that the new Uncharted movie found itself a new director. At the helm of the project will be Dan Trachtenberg, most well known for directing 10 Cloverfield Lane and the well-received Netflix drama Black Mirror. This Uncharted movie has been in development for over a decade, with several high-key names attached, only to fall apart like dust in the wind.
There have been several high-profile names set to don the role of the treasure hunting Nathan Drake, including Mark Wahlberg and Chris Pratt, both of whom probably could have done the role a solid service. However, I find myself asking why Nathan Fillion’s name has never been brought up in conversation about playing the rugged hero. First off, he looks exactly like Nathan Drake and has played similar characters in the past. Secondly, he has expressed the desire to play the character! In fact, he even shot a 15 minute short where he got the chance to play Drake, and it is nothing short of awesome. Seriously, check it out below.
So my question is, with Fillion’s interest in playing the role, and the fact that he does a killer job in the brief 15 minutes we see him on screen as Drake, why has his name NEVER been considered at all? Why has Sony decided on using Tom Holland, the new Spider-Man (Spider-Man: Homecoming was overrated, but that’s a song for another time), to take on the role of a young Nathan Drake in some sort of prequel?
Now don’t get me wrong, Holland is a terrific actor, but I honestly think that he is not a good fit for the role of Drake. Sure, Holland has some of the natural athleticism that Drake possesses, and I can envision him leaping across cliffs and climbing up temple walls, but Nathan Drake is a rugged, cocky hero akin to Indiana Jones. With characters like this, the casting has to be perfect or else it will not work right. Tom Selleck screen-tested for Indiana Jones, but no one could have played that role like Harrison Ford. Ford WAS the character. Nathan Drake squeaks by with his quick whit, charm, and a sprinkle of luck, while dropping humorous one-liners to conceal his fear and the fact that he doesn’t know what he’s doing most of the time. He is just winging it.
As I said earlier, Holland is a brilliant actor. However, I think he seems too innocent and doesn’t naturally have that false sense of bravado and sarcasm that makes Nathan Drake who he is. He is a daring character who is flawed, which makes him relatable to audiences. So why cast Holland then? Could it be the fact that there simply aren’t that many well-known actors in his age range? Possibly. But I think I have the answer, and it comes down to money. Holland is one of the biggest young names in Hollywood right now. People will go out to theaters to watch the Uncharted movie even if they have never heard of the franchise at all just because he is in it. And why cast a young Nathan Drake instead of one in his later years, like Nathan Fillion? Because they can use Holland for years and years in sequels if the first movie is successful.
The thing about this that really irks me is the fact that the Uncharted series has never been about making as much money as possible. If that were the case, they would have rushed out each game as quickly as possible instead of taking time to flesh out the story and characters. Naughty Dog would have probably made more than four games if that were the case. The Uncharted series has always been story and character driven. Each game lets you learn a little more about Nathan Drake and you start to feel attached to him, like you have known him for a long while. When I finished Uncharted 4 I was truly upset that I no longer got to experience any more adventures with Nathan Drake. I loved the final part where you play as his daughter at their house on the beach and you get to go through all of Drake’s mementos of the past games. It was a bittersweet feeling, but it felt real.
Now I don’t know how this Uncharted movie will turn out, or even if it will ultimately get made at all. I honestly hope that it does, because I truly love the character of Nathan Drake. He is more complex than we realize, and it could be interesting to see some of the dynamics in this prequel of how he came to be the Nathan Drake we all know and love. Bryan Cranston is even attached to the project, although his role is unknown. I feel like he could be a great Sully, but who knows who he is supposed to play. I want this movie to be great, but if it’s made with the idea of making bank and appeasing the general public instead of the Uncharted fans, it will be a complete failure that could have been something special.