Those of us across the pond may not have heard of The Sweeney, but it’s responsible for most of those TV cop cliches we know and love. The British series, which first aired in 1975, follows two members of the London police who smoke, drink, and don’t play by anybody’s rules but their own. But in England, the series must have some appeal, as Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy and Orlando Bloom are each vying the lead role.
Fox Searchlight has been working on a film adaptation of the series for some time, with Michael Fassbender and Ray Winstone cast as leads, but the project was dropped due to lack of star power. Which may have been one hell of a mistake, judging by all the roles Fassbender’s been offered lately. Winstone is staying on as sidekick George Carter, but the lead role of Mancunian detective Jack Regan is up for grabs. The range of actors being considered is surprisingly diverse, and the tone of the role and of the film is going to vary drastically depending on who they pick. Daniel Craig or Tom Hardy are the more obvious choices to play a tough detective, but Craig currently has a lot on his plate. I think the most interesting choice for the role would be McGregor, whose proven himself to be highly versatile, and could really use a hit. The only person I can’t see in the role is Orlando Bloom, but I have issues seeing him in any role that doesn’t involve period garb and a wig. I can’t say which actor would be closest to John Thaw’s original Regan, never having seen the show, but it does appear that they’re starting from scratch with Winstone’s Carter, who was 26 in the original show.
Nick Love, of The Firm, has signed on to direct the film, with a script from Ian Kennedy Martin, who created the original TV series and wrote the script for MST3K favorite Mitchell. That’s one hell of a mixed resume, but hopefully The Sweeney will put its own spin on the gritty crime drama genre it helped to define.