Tom Cruise is taking a step back by stepping out of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to focus on producing and starring in Mission Impossible 5. Cruise had been slated to co-star with Armie Hammer in the Guy Ritchie directed movie adaptation of the '60s television series.
When the project was first launched, Steven Soderbergh was directing and George Clooney was attached to star. Both men have since left the project with Soderbergh slowly slipping into retirement and Clooney focusing on other projects like Gravity and Monuments Men.
So who can fill Tom Cruise's spot? Here are five guys who could step in and yes, many of them have worked with Ritchie before.
Robert Downey Jr.
Ritchie Connection: Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Why He Could Be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Let's face it. Downey's not going to be working on any Marvel-related projects for the foreseeable future and we haven't heard any further talk about a third Sherlock Holmes movie (yet) so why not re-team with Ritchie for this action comedy featuring a character that is essentially Tony Stark as a super spy (and minus the Iron Man suits). Napoleon Solo, the character Cruise has abandoned, is urbane, charming, laid-back, well-dressed and a serial womanizer. It's like he's Tony Stark's long-lost brother. (Calm down Marvel Ultimate Universe fans, I know his real brother is Gregory Stark.)
Ritchie Connection: RocknRolla
Why He Could Be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Butler could seriously use a blockbuster hit to help jolt his live action career. His last successful film was How To Train Your Dragon, but honestly, how many of you went to see that movie because Butler was one of the headliners? His Olympus Has Fallen turn was a nice rebound and this film could be a nice second step before the Dragon sequel arrives in 2014. The actor personifies all of Solo's characteristics mentioned above and would provide a strong contrast against Hammer's reserved, intellectual Illya Kuryakin.
Ritchie Connection: None, but they've probably met at various Hollywood parties and events.
Why He Could Be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Cooper appears on here primarily by default. Between him and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it seems both actors are mentioned for any major movie role that Hollywood has to offer. Cooper's 2014 slate is somewhat open. He is attached to the Steven Spielberg action movie American Sniper which won't be in theaters until 2015. Outside of that, he's finished filming Serena and American Hustler so unless there's going to be a Hangover 4 or another A-Team movie, he'll certainly be open to options.
Ritchie Connection: Bana was at one time rumored for the Handsome Bob role in RocknRolla that eventually went to Tom Hardy.
Why He Could Be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: OK, this may seem out of left field and a long-shot, but where has Bana been since 2011's Hanna? He has two movies currently in very early stages pre-production that won't be out until 2015. Bana is a talented actor who can pull off the cool, laid-back Solo character, not to mention he bears a somewhat close resemblance to Robert Vaughn who played the character on TV.
Ritchie Connection: None, though I'm sure they've chatted at an after party here and there.
Why He Could Be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: If there is anyone who bears a striking resemblance to Vaughn, it's Spacey. The two-time Oscar winner doesn't have any projects lined up after finishing his buzz-worthy performance in House of Cards. We know Spacey can rock a suit and he's always fun to watch in these charismatic type of roles. Age would be the primary factor here as Spacey is in his mid-50s.
Landing Downey would be huge and it's clear that Warner Bros. is looking for an A-lister to headline the film. That's where my vote goes. If not him, perhaps Jim Caviezel.
How about you? Do any of these actors seem like a good fit for the Napoleon Solo role? Is there another actor that should be added to the list? Watch a quick intro on the main characters of the television show and let us know who you think show take Cruise's place.