×

Alexander Skarsgard swings into ‘Tarzan’ frontrunner

Thesp is David Yates' choice for Warner Bros. adaptation

Alexander Skarsgard has emerged as the frontrunner to topline David Yates’ “Tarzan” movie at Warner Bros.

The “True Blood” star is Yates’ choice to play the vine-swinging hero, sources tell Variety. Skarsgard doesn’t have an offer and the studio hasn’t finalized any casting decisions for the film, which has yet to go before the studio’s greenlight committee.

However, with a summer start date being planned, it is expected to be greenlit before the end of the year, as Warner is high on Yates and wouldn’t tie up his schedule with a movie it has no intention of making.

Warner Bros. and Skarsgard’s reps had no comment.

Should Yates convince Warners brass to sign off on the casting, the 6’4″ Swedish thesp would play John Clayton III, aka Tarzan. Years after he’s reassimilated into society, he’s asked by Queen Victoria to investigate the goings-on in the Congo. Tarzan teams with an ex-mercenary named George Washington Williams to save the Congo from a warlord who controls a massive diamond mine. Samuel L. Jackson is being eyed to play Williams.

Yates, who has been connected to the project for several months but only officially committed last week, has had an array of actors to choose from, including Henry Cavill, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hardy, all of whom topline upcoming Warners pics. Cavill and Hardy play the title characters in WB franchises “Man of Steel” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” respectively, while Hunnam stars in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.” Sources say that execs were wary of having Cavill anchor a second franchise before “Man of Steel” opens. Meanwhile, Hardy has been looking to tackle a small, character-driven project such as Fox Searchlight’s “Animal Rescue.”

Yates directed the last four entries in WB’s “Harry Potter” franchise, so he has enough clout on the studio lot to get execs to sign off on his choice of a leading man.

The studio is keen to be in business with Skarsgard, who stars in the upcoming low-budget thriller “Hidden” with Andrea Riseborough. Skarsgard is also attached to star in “The Vanguard,” a Viking-themed epic written by Chris Boal that WB will produce with Atlas Entertainment.

A bigscreen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series of novels, “Tarzan” is being produced by Jerry Weintraub, Alan Riche and Peter Riche of Riche Prods. and Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg of Dark Horse Entertainment. Numerous scribes worked on the script including John August, Cormac and Marianne Wibberley and most recently, Adam Cozad.

Skarsgard will next be seen in the indies “Disconnect” and “What Maisie Knew,” both of which premiered at Toronto in September.

He’s repped by CAA, Principal Entertainment L.A. and attorney Gretchen Rush, while Jackson is repped by ICM Partners, Anonymous Content and Jackoway Tyerman.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content