Actor to play Washington's foil in Scott film

John Travolta is boarding “The Taking of Pelham 123,” negotiating to join Denzel Washington in the Tony Scott-directed remake at Columbia.

Travolta will play the leader of a quartet that hijacks a Gotham subway train and threatens to kill the passengers unless a ransom is paid. The role was originated in the 1974 film by Robert Shaw. Washington plays the chief detective of security for the subway, a role originated by Walter Matthau in the Joseph Sargent-directed drama.

David Koepp wrote the script and Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch are producing through Escape Artists. Tony Scott is also producing through his Scott Free banner. The film rolls into production early next year.

Scott heavily courted Travolta to make “Pelham” his first action role in years. Travolta is coming off a drag turn as Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray” and is currently re-teaming with “Wild Hogs” helmer Walt Becker in “Old Dogs.”

Travolta last played the figurative heavy in “The Punisher” in 2004.

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