Al Capone has been dead for over 60 years, but he continues to live on through our fascination with gangsters and debonair criminals. The Prohibition Era kingpin has been the subject of countless films over the years, but Warner Bros. is betting that audiences want more of the portly gangster with their recent acquisition of the screenplay 'Cicero'.
Walon Green, who wrote the screenplay for Peckinpah's classic western 'The Wild Bunch', penned this new script, which follows Capone's rise from his poor Brooklyn neighborhood to becoming the biggest gangster in Chicago. The title refers to the nearby town of Cicero, Illinois -- where Capone set up his operations so they were outside of the Chicago city limits. In 1924, he took over the city's government.
Early script reviews are describing the tale as a throwback to the classic gangster films of the 1930's -- with many comparing it to the James Cagney classic, 'The Public Enemy'. If that turns out to be true, consider me officially intrigued.
No director has been linked to the project as of yet, but the real issue here is one of casting. Who do you get to play Al Capone? De Niro did a fantastic job in 'The Untouchables', but recasting him doesn't seem likely to work. With that in mind, we picked a few actors who might be interesting in the role.
Hit the jump to see our selection and then weigh in with your own choices.
One potential choice for the role is Kevin Spacey. Spacey seems like a bit of a stretch at first glance -- and he'd definitely have to put on a few pounds for the role, but the actor presents that air of refinement with the undercurrent of danger that Capone seems to have had. I have no doubt that his delivery would be the right match for Capone's underlying menace. This might not be perfect casting, but Kevin Spacey is a good enough actor to pull it off.
Going in a slightly different direction, Nic Cage is the wild card pick. It's easy to forget just how good Cage can be when he's engaged by the material and not just looking for a paycheck, and I think seeing him play history's most infamous gangster might be the role to help keep the momentum going after 'Bad Lieutenant'. That Cage would be pretty amusing in any scene that called for Capone to flip out and do something violent is a given, but I think he could pull off the more subdued scenes as well. Again, like Spacey, this is a little bit outside the box, but it could work.
Vincent D'Onofrio's intensity would be an asset in this role, and his physical appearance would make it easy for audiences to buy into his portrayal. On the flip side of television/film savvy actors -- we already know that James Gandolfini can play a vicious gangster on 'The Sopranos', so sliding into the role of Capone seems like a natural fit.
My top pick, the guy I'd cast (short of a complete unknown) to play Al Capone is none other than Paul Giamatti. Giamatti definitely looks the part and he's a great actor who could easily pull off all the different facets of Capone's personality in a believable fashion. The performer does over-the-top rage well, but also has that gift that Spacey has for making more quiet scenes drip with menace. Giamatti would look just as at home in Capone's lavishly decorated cell at Eastern State Penitentiary as he would smacking someone in the head with a baseball bat. Honestly, this might be the role Giamatti was born to play -- and one that catapults him to the full-on mainstream fame he deserves. If I were the casting director for 'Cicero', Giamatti would be the guy I went after first.
These are just a few ideas. Who's on your list?