Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro will be taking on a role made famous by another actor not known for his clear enunciation, Humphrey Bogart. Variety reports that the ”Traffic” actor will star in and coproduce a version of Ernest Hemingway’s ”To Have and Have Not” for Universal Focus. Writing and directing will be Tod Williams, the filmmaker behind the 1998 art-house coming-of-age picture ”The Adventures of Sebastian Cole.” It’s not clear when the movie will shoot; Williams is about to go into production on ”Door in the Floor,” his adaptation of John Irving’s ”A Widow for One Year” that will star Jeff Bridges and Kristin Scott Thomas. And Del Toro has a busy slate that includes a biopic of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara for ”Traffic” director Steven Soderbergh and the thriller ”Chaos” with Robert De Niro, to be directed by ”Sexy Beast”’s Jonathan Glazer.
Although Warner Bros. holds the remake rights to the studio’s 1944 Howard Hawks-directed version of ”To Have and Have Not,” the movie departed substantially from Hemingway’s story, allowing Williams to go directly to the source (that is, Hemingway’s estate) to buy the film rights. The original movie, which introduced Humphrey Bogart to future wife Lauren Bacall for the first of their four screen pairings, became more of a wartime tale of romantic intrigue, like Bogart’s ”Casablanca.” Williams’ story, updated to the present, will have Del Toro playing a struggling fisherman in the Florida Keys who, desperate to earn enough to support his family, gets involved with smugglers. Guess that means we won’t be seeing some sultry young thing asking Del Toro if he knows how to whistle.