Who should play '70s daredevil Evel Knievel? | EW.com

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Who should play '70s daredevil Evel Knievel?

Evel Knievel

(Everett Collection)

With his red, white, and blue jumpsuit, hell-raising antics, and legacy of crash-and-burn stunts that more often than not resulted in fireballs, broken bones, and extended stays in the ICU, Evel Knievel was the kind of larger-than-life American icon whose life was tailor-made for the big screen. Well, the latest word out of Tinseltown is that stuntman-turned-writer/director Ric Roman Waugh has optioned Leigh Montville’s recent bio The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend and plans to turn it into a film – a film which I hope has as little in common with 1977’s atrocious Viva Knievel! as humanly possible.

Now comes the question of who should play the hard-living hero who notoriously tried – and failed – to soar across Snake River Canyon? Waugh has said that he hopes to attract an actor who’s a man’s man (think Steve McQueen, not Zac Efron).

And names such as Tom Hardy, Chris Hemsworth, and Joel Edgerton have already been floated. And while those three all seem plausible, I’d like to cast a vote for Ryan Gosling or Chris Pine, both of whom we can easily see poppin’ wheelies in a star-spangled cape. Or what about James Franco, who’d no doubt give the hell-raising hot dog a much-needed pinch of post-modern irony? Or Shia LaBeouf, who’s already shown he can handle a Harley in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? And what about Alexander Skarsgard? Let’s open up the floor and hear what you have to say. In the meantime, here’s a peek at what Hollywood should avoid…

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And think of the merchandising tie-in possibilities…

Read more:
EW’s looks back at Evel Knievel’s Idaho gorge stunt