Like so many elements of the all-male exotic dance revue Chippendales, the road to production on the film about it has been long and hard. A dramatization of the stripping empire’s unsavory founding has been languishing in development hell for no less than two decades as attached talent came and went, but it looks like the show may actually go on this time around.
Deadline has the exclusive that the long-gestating project has hooked a new director in Craig Gillespie, most recently known for the similarly stylized true-crime yarn I, Tonya. (Next year, ostensibly, barring the eventuality of everything somehow getting much worse, he’ll return to theaters with the Cruella de Vil solo picture starring Emma Stone.) And as for a star, the team has retained the services of Dev Patel in the leading role for years – he’s in it to win it.
He’s going to portray Steve Banerjee, an Indian emigrant come to California in search of his fortune during the garish, coke-dusted ’80s. He made his nut, so to speak, off the concept for a strip show consisting of buff hunks in little more than collars and cuffs, expanding the brand to a nationwide chain of clubs, a touring show traveling all over the globe, and a massively successful line of calendars featuring their finest performers.
But greed and narcotics exacerbated tensions between Banerjee and his partners, including Paul Snider (murdered his girlfriend, Playboy bunny Dorothy Stratten, and then took his own life) and Nick Denoia (whacked by a hitman hired by Banerjee). They both figure prominently into the film, with the latter figure a key supporting role, having been previously occupied by a now-elsewhere Ben Stiller.
For Patel, who’s spent his career since Skins playing decent guys mostly on the up-and-up, being a violent, self-involved lowlife will present an intriguing departure. Though it does pose the question of who could likewise go against type as Denoia, the sleaze responsible for recruiting the thong-wearing beefsteaks in their numbers; I think Jonah Hill could work in that Stillerian vein.
Published 14 Oct 2020
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