Is it safe to compare Robert Downey Jr. to Steve McQueen? I think the its are fair. Both are considered “rebels” within Hollywood and ooze a “bad boy” persona, yet both are highly respected actors with Oscar nominations. Luckily, Downey has been able to turn his life around and more than likely won’t meet the same fate as McQueen, who passed away at the age of 50. Downey is also channeling McQueen with a “new” project Yucatan, which McQueen originally wrote back in the 60s.
Yucatan is an epic heist movie that involves mysterious treasure buried deep in said Mayan ruins. To make things more interesting, the ruins rest deep underwater, so we’ll at least get to see RDJ in a wetsuit a time or two.
The back story to this film is an interesting. McQueen never wrote out an official script for the movie but did scribble a few notes and storyboards. About 1500 pages through 15 notebooks worth (which means they were 100 page notebooks if filled, for those of you who despise basic math). McQueen wanted to star in the film himself, but was never able to get it off the ground. In 2005 his estate found the notes in a trunk and sold it to Warner Brothers. It has floated around in development since then until RDJ stepped in with his business partner and wife Susan (the same person, incidentally) to resurrect the script.
Downey will obviously be playing the part McQueen wrote for himself. They have brought in Sherlock Holmes screenwriter Anthony Peckham to re-write the script. Sherlock was a pretty good movie. The script was fun and playful in all the right ways. Peckham also wrote Invictus, another film with a decent story but an entirely different tone. He could provide an excellent balance of urgency and lightheartedness that will make for a very entertaining movie. Needless to say, with the legacy of Steve McQueen behind this and Robert Downey Jr. handling it now, I’m really looking forward to Yucatan.