Though I think Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is much more relevant to the state of the world today in terms of story and theme, I’ll gladly take a Fahrenheit 451 written and directed by Frank Darabont. I read Darabont’s adaptation several years ago (when Mel Gibson was set to star), and felt it was an astute distillation of Bradbury’s anti-censorship classic. And while I’m in the minority that actually loves Francois Truffaut’s 1966 version, Darabont’s script is different enough to warrant the second pass; it’s angrier and more immediate.
But now that Mel Gibson has apparently retired from acting, Darabont’s been forced to look elsewhere for his Guy Montag, the book-burning fireman who begins to question his work when he dares to read one of the forbidden tomes for the first time in his life. It’s tough to lose an actor of Gibson’s stature (lunatic PR fiascos notwithstanding), but, according to an in-the-know tipster who contacted Moriarty at AICN, Darabont’s improved his lot: how does Tom Hanks as Guy Montag sound?
Some might argue that Hanks is too old for the part; that Darabont should cast someone younger like Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon or Billy Crudup. Those are all excellent choices, but I like what Hanks brings to the table. It’s much more affecting to see an older man question his life’s work, and I’ve no doubt that Hanks will manage Montag’s transformation with tremendous sensitivity. It could be a nice, subtle variation on his humorless FBI agent from Catch Me If You Can (or maybe his hit man from Road to Perdition). Not that we need to pick over Hanks’s past work to validate his casting; he’s more than proven his versatility.
Be advised that this is just a casting rumor at the moment, but this has a ring of truth to it.