Uncharted Movie Has “Anti-Indiana Jones” Feel to It, Writer Says [UPDATE]

[UPDATE] Uncharted game director Neil Druckmann clarified on Twitter that he has never met the movie’s writer, Joe Carnahan. “I haven’t met the movie writer, don’t know his take on the material, therefore have no opinion on the script,” he said.

In the Collider interview, Carnahan said he met with Druckmann and other people involved with the Uncharted series.

“I sat down with [Uncharted director Amy Hennig] and sat down with [Drake voice actor Nolan North] and sat down with [Uncharted writer and director Neil Druckmann], who created this thing, and took them through what I was doing and what I was thinking of and they loved it,” Carnahan said.

The original story is below.

Following the news last week that Shawn Levy (Stranger Things, Night at the Museum) will direct Sony’s Uncharted movie, writer Joe Carnahan has now revealed more details about the project.

The writer told Collider that Levy is “incredibly” smart and talented and said they both have a fondness for the Indiana Jones movies, which Uncharted shares similarities with. For Carnahan, however, he’s taking an “anti-Indy” approach to the script.

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“What I’ve written is very anti-Indy in the sense of the guy that loves museums and wants to preserve these artifacts. He’s not! He’s a thief and he’s a grifter, and he’s a scourge,” Carnahan said. “He and Sully are not good guys but they’re better than the bad guys. It’s a game, you know, they’re certainly rogues, and certainly don’t have a problem, even in the first game he just kind of dumped Elena and it’s interesting.”

Video game movies have a track record of mediocrity or worse, so the Uncharted film faces something of an uphill battle, at least in terms of perception. For a video game movie to succeed, it needs to be something that exceeds the sum of its part, Carnahan said, adding that his script is being well received in its current state. It’s important that the Uncharted movie stay true to its roots but being too beholden to the source material might be a bad thing, the writer said.

“I sat down with [Uncharted director Amy Hennig] and sat down with [Drake voice actor Nolan North] and sat down with [Uncharted writer and director Neil Druckmann], who created this thing, and took them through what I was doing and what I was thinking of and they loved it,” Carnahan said. “She loved it. She understands too that you can’t be so slavish and devoted to the source material. I’m a big believer that the fanboy element or the fan lobbies are massively overrepresented in Hollywood and don’t have nearly the lobbying power that we think they do.”

It’s important for the Uncharted movie to “cut loose” from following the game’s story too closely, Carnahan said. “You need to break with tradition sometimes to tell compelling stories,” he explained.

“It’s just making a great movie and trying to put as much of the game in as you can and the sensibilities of making Drake and Sullivan and so on, and beyond that, just do something original and fun,” Carnahan added. “Roll the dice, like we have to do on anything. There are no assurances, and there certainly are very few hedging your bets when it comes to making movies. So I really believe that. Just be original. Do your best. Try to check the boxes you can, but beyond that don’t get wrapped up.”

The Uncharted movie’s script, as it currently stands, includes important elements from the game like the signet ring, the harvest magnet, and the legend of Sir Francis Drake. Of course, it will also have “big action stuff,” Carnahan said, which is no surprise, given the game series is known for that.

Outside of Drake and Sullivan, we don’t know if any other familiar characters will show up. Carnahan said he did keep some characters, but they have been “reset.”

“So there’ll be names and familiar faces and so on, but they won’t necessarily be what they were in the game, which I think is important, you have to do that, create amalgams,” he said.

At least based on the screenplay, Carnahan said he thinks Uncharted fans will be happy.

“I think people will dig it, but I can’t imagine,” he added. “I’m sure someone will hate my guts, but that’s okay, a lot of people hate my guts.”

Also in the interview, Carnahan said he and Levy have discussed actors who could play Drake, but said nothing is locked in yet because he’s unsure who will be available and what it might cost to get them. Nolan North would be perfect, he said with a laugh. But more seriously, it may end up coming down to “sheer economics,” Carnahan said.

One of the names floated for Drake was Mark Wahlberg. Carnahan said he would be “great” in the role, but it would depend on how old Drake would be in the movie. The same goes for Sully. Another factor to consider is that Sony apparently wants Uncharted to be a film franchise that could span multiple movies. This complicates the matter of choosing an actor.

“Is Sully in his 50s and Nate in his late 30s? Is Nate in his late 20s and Sully’s in his early 40s? Who knows,” Carnahan said. “It really is gonna depend on that process because if X gets excited and says ‘Oh, I want to play that,’ then it means Sully’s gonna have to be this age, and that changes things. And if you’re talking about making three, four films, what’s ideal for that.”

Read the full interview at Collider to learn more about the Uncharted movie, including Carnahan’s thoughts on what its rating could be.

A release date for the Uncharted movie has not been announced, but it’s reportedly being fast-tracked.

The next high-profile video game movie is Assassin’s Creed, which is based on Ubisoft’s video game franchise. Michael Fassbender stars in the movie, which opens on December 21.