An Action Movie Franchise for Queen Latifah? Maybe…
By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act
At least, that’s a suggestion made by both Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit production partner, Shakim Compere, and producer Lili Zanuck (who, along with producing partner, the late ace Richard Zanuck, first approached Latifah with the Bessie Smith project, when she was just 22, because they truly felt that she was the only person who could fully embody Bessie).
Zanuck is featured in an extensive profile of Queen Latifah published in Variety today, in which the magazine traces the Queen’s professional career (with a little bit of the personal), through the present, and beyond. Towards the end of the piece, which summarizes what’s next for Latifah, including producing 2 new unscripted series for Centric TV (“From the Bottom Up,” which premieres Dec. 5, and “Curve Appeal” which premieres in April 2016), her long-time Flavor Unit production partner Compere, and producer Zanuck both say that they want her to do an action movie next.
From Compere: “I would love to see her do an action movie… I think she could carry that.”
And Lili Zanuck chimes in with the following: “I’ve said we need to find a ‘Salt’ for her, because ‘Salt’ was written for a man before it was given to Angelina Jolie… She would be amazing.”
“Salt” was of course the 2010 action thriller spy film directed by Phillip Noyce, starring Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and others, in which Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, who is accused of being a Russian sleeper agent and goes on the run to try to clear her name. The script was originally written with a male protagonist, with Tom Cruise initially attached to star. It grossed almost $300 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews.
Can you see Latifah in an action movie, unloading bullets from a machine gun into bad guys, and kicking all kinds of ass? The closest she’s ever come to anything like an action movie would be “Set It Off,” and maybe even “Taxi” with Jimmy Fallon, although that was more of a comedy-action, and Fallon really was the star. I’m talking about a serious action movie that she carries entirely on her own. The first thing that came to me immediately was something like a Cleopatra Jones type; although, since we’re in that era (the 1970s), Latifah was said to be remaking “Truck Turner” a few years ago, but no word on whether that’s still something on her slate.
The original starred Isaac Hayes as a bounty hunter with a bounty on his own head. Latifah’s remake would have reportedly pit Truck Turner against a 21st century crime syndicate out for his head. She was listed as both star and producer of the project, but we never knew whether she planned to essentially pull a “Salt” and switch the gender of the lead character as originally written, and turn Truck Turner into, let’s say Trisha Turner, making him a her, so that Latifah could play the role. Otherwise, the only other substantive role she could play in the film would be the one Nichelle Nichols originated – Dorinda, the sexy yet tough madame out for revenge in the form of Truck Turner’s head. But I can’t see Latifah in that role – not as it was played by Nichelle Nichols anyway. I suppose they could rewrite the character to suit Latifah’s strengths.
But a “Truck Turner” remake might just be her own “Salt” to use producer Lili Zanuck’s words.
Given that both Shakim Compere and Zanuck are seemingly pushing for Latifah to tackle an action movie next, don’t be surprised if it’s suddenly announced that she will indeed be starring in some action-adventure flick. But first, catch her in NBC’s “The Wiz Live!” this upcoming holiday season, playing The Wiz.
Read Variety’s profile here.