Image Credit: Todd Williamson/WireImage.comOne of the defining characteristics of that merry band of enterprising tough guys in The A-Team is their all-for-one-and-one-for-all attitude. Apparently, that ethos carries over off of the big screen, too. This morning, EW confirmed that Liam Neeson is in negotiations to replace his A-Team costar Bradley Cooper in the upcoming survival thriller, The Grey (first reported by the Hollywood Reporter). The film is being directed by Joe Carnahan, who directed, you guessed it, The A-Team. The action-packed flick apparently kicks off with a plane crash in Alaska and follows a team of oil drillers as they try to stay alive in the wild, including attacks by packs of very hungry wolves. Sounds cool. But this bit of casting news raises a couple of intriguing questions.
First, Bradley Cooper is 35; Neeson is 58. And while we’re well aware that Neeson can still kick butt with extreme prejudice (see his badass turn as an avenging father in 2008’s Taken if you have any doubts), doesn’t it seem a bit odd that two actors who are 23 years apart in age would be so interchangeable — even if the arctic Alaska setting stymies the sort of gratuitous shirtless scenes we’re assuming were originally written for Cooper?
Second is more of an industry inside-baseball observation. Neeson, Cooper, and Carnahan are all represented by the same talent agency, CAA, which not-so-coincidentally happens to be handling the North American distribution rights for the film. Could that have had a hidden hand in why the role passed from one CAA client to another — to keep it in the family? We can just imagine a CAA water cooler exchange that went down like this: “So, Bradley Cooper just called and said he was dropping out of the Carnahan movie.” “Hey, that’s too bad. Wait! Doesn’t the guy down the hall have a Schindler’s List poster on his wall? Maybe he represents Liam Neeson!”
Finally, there’s the whole A-Team connection. Earlier this summer, the action-comedy pulled in an underwhelming $77 million domestically and another $90 million overseas, where the things-go-boom ’80s TV show played only a little less frequently than Baywatch Nights. Box office aside, Carnahan must have enjoyed the experience enough that he not only wants to work with not one, but both of his leading men again. If I were Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (a.k.a. B.A. Baracus), I’d be placing a call to Carnahan, stat. Or at least switching my agent to someone at CAA. Just saying.
What do you think of this casting news? Who would you rather see running for their lives from blood-thirsty wolves: Cooper or Neeson?