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Exclusive: Sacha Cohen Baron Offered the Lead in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 18, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 18, 2010 |

The long in-development remake of the 1947 Danny Kaye comedy, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, has been something of a curse. It’s gone through a number of directors, including Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Mark Waters, and Chuck Russell, as well as actors Jim Carrey, Kevin Anderson and Owen Wilson, who have all been attached as the lead at one point or another.

The problems that have plagued the production of Walter Mitty have been numerous, including legal complications that have arisen over the remake rights. It started out, in 1994, at New Line Cinemas (with Jim Carrey), and ended up in the hands of both Dreamworks and Paramount in the early half of the aughts, when Spielberg was attached to direct. Scheduling prohibited Carrey from making the film, however, and the part went to Owen Wilson, but Spielberg couldn’t commit by then because of scheduling difficulties.

Eventually, Paramount lost the remake rights, and Walter Mitty moved on over to 20th Century Fox, where Mike Myers finally came aboard. During that entire time — the period between 1994 and 2007 — Walter Mitty has gone through nearly a dozen writers, including Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz, Zach Helm, Richard LaGravenese, Jay Kogen, Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, and Peter Tolan.

It’s 2010 now, and Walter Mitty has still not officially gone into production. But it’s inching closer again. Granted, Walter Mitty still doesn’t officially have a director aboard, but 20th Century Fox, which has miraculously held on to the rights for a whopping three years, is pushing the project forward again. (Perhaps their window, too, is about to disappear, and they’d like to get the ball rolling before MGM takes the rights back). Mike Meyers is no longer attached, however. Instead, according to our insider source, The Hollywood Cog, 20th Century wants Sacha Cohen Baron for the lead, and an offer is currently out.

Whether they get Baron is another question; he seems to suit the part of a put-upon daydreaming writer whose fantasy life gets mixed up with reality. And let’s be honest: Baron could use the part, as his career has stalled since Bruno, with only The Invention of Hugo Cabret making it as far as pre-production. (And given the success of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes, Baron’s comedic take on that character will probably never see the light of day).

Meanwhile, what we do know is that Mike Myers is officially off of Walter Mitty, which isn’t a huge surprise considering the splat his career has taken since The Love Guru. Meanwhile, Peter Morgan — Frost/Nixon, The Queen — has recently taken yet another pass at the Walter Mitty script. The updated version has Walter Mitty as a timid mega-store owner — rather than a pulp fiction writer — who daydreams of being a swashbuckling hero. When his reputation is put to the test, Walter must prove his ability to save the day.

The question is, can Sacha Cohen Baron save the production of Walter Mitty or is this movie destined to return to development purgatory for another 15 years?

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.