Back in the 1930s, Hollywood stumbled onto a formula that would lead to one of its most lucrative and lasting franchises: A high-society husband and wife sip martinis, swap flirty bons mots, and solve mysteries. Adapted from one of Dashiell Hammett’s rare non-hard-boiled novels, 1934’s The Thin Man starred William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, and led to five screwball sequels that left Lord knows how many cocktail-party corpses in their wake. Over the years The Thin Man has spawned scads of small-screen imitators such as Hart to Hart, Remington Steele, and Moonlighting. Still, the original, with its rat-a-tat banter and murder-sniffing mascot (Nick and Nora’s excitable dog, Asta), remains the gold standard of his-and-her sleuthing. Not surprisingly, Hollywood’s been itching to modernize the Thin Man films for ages. Now it finally looks like Warner Bros. is getting close, having signed Chicago’s Rob Marshall to direct and Johnny Depp to don Nick’s neatly pressed tuxedo. So who will play his sophisticated better half? Deadline.com recently reported that the studio had narrowed down the pool of potential leading ladies to a handful of A-list names. And while that roll call remains speculative at best, here’s our two cents on some of the rumored contenders…
Our Pick: Rachel Weisz
Not an obvious pick since Weisz isn’t known for comedy, but she gets our endorsement. She has Loy’s sophistication down, and we see her having the smarts to put Depp’s sozzled smart-ass Nick in his place.
A few years ago, this might have seemed an odd choice. Adams was best known for playing sunny optimists in films like Enchanted. But her tough Oscar-nominated turn in The Fighter proved she has Loy’s sass and brass.
Is the Drive and Shame star too waifish and demure to pull off Nora’s tipsy take-no-guff attitude? Maybe. But she does have a history with Depp — they costarred in 2009’s Public Enemies.
Our initial thought is: Jackpot! But at 23, the sharp and sexy Crazy, Stupid, Love star may be a tad young for Depp (not that that’s ever stopped Tinseltown husband-and-wife casting before).
The third Brit on the list has just the right touch of upper-crust polish to play Nora. Plus the Devil Wears Prada star knows her way around a mystery — one of her first roles was on the Agatha Christie’s Poirot TV series.
Bridesmaids showed that the SNL standout could shine on the big screen, and she certainly can do screwball. But can she keep a straight face long enough to sell the story’s romance?
A gifted comedian, Fisher seems an iffy choice at least in terms of star power. Since her scene-stealing breakout in 2005’s Wedding Crashers, she hasn’t proved herself at the box office.
And let’s not forget one more role that remains uncast: Nick and Nora’s beloved wire fox terrier, Asta. How much would it take to pull The Artist’s Uggie out of doggie retirement?