By Destiny Givens.
Jules Verne fans are abuzz today, with the news that a remake of Around the World in Eighty Days has been green-lit by North Queensland streaming service, Buffer.
Executive Producer, Deborah Mailman, has said that the production will be inspired by the whimsical Australian cartoon series (above) from the 1970s, rather than the many live-action adaptations.
“We wanted something fresh,” explained Mailman from her offices in Bungalow. “We felt that the high-budget remakes were glossy and tired, and we wanted to make something more matte and energetic. The cartoon series was just that; and its bizarre take on the original text has given the script adaptation team a lot of ideas.”
The critical casting choice was that of the lead role of Phileas Fogg, the knockabout billionaire with an eye for the ladies and a gambler’s addiction. The producers wanted to bring in someone more dynamic into the role.
“We didn’t want a prissy, mincing little Jude Law type,” explained Mailman. “From the outset, we knew that our Fogg would be rather more muscular. It’s basically a road movie right? Fogg is a single man with a constant erection, seeing the world for the last time with his buds. He’s going to pull a few roots, sink a few beers, wear a few dresses, say a few prayers. Mel Gibson was the perfect choice.”
Mailman explained that the choice of actor for the role of the tricky Mr Fix was relatively straight forward.
“If you’re looking for a light-fingered dimwit, who bumps into things and gets the shit kicked out of him in every episode, you can’t go past Pete Evans. He’s a boo-machine, looks ridiculous in a mustache and his outrageous French accent is obviously pinpoint. He learned from the best. And as we’ll be filming indoors at the Big Dirt studios in Gordonvale, sunburn won’t be an issue.”
Mailman went on to defend the decision to cast Ray Meagher as Toto the monkey. “We found the original Toto to be underused as a pivot character and as a simian,” she said. “We needed some more over-performative conflict and increased volume from the part. And Ray is the perfect fit. No one is more shouty and more monkey-ish. And I can’t think of a better over-actor.”
The cast is filled out with Miguel Maestre as Passepartout, Clive Palmer as Lord Maze, Asher Keddie as Belinda Maze and Alex Papps as The Crocodile. Bruce Beresford has been named as director of the pilot.
Filming begins early next month with a release date yet to be named. “We’re waiting on Buffer to get back to us on that,” said Mailman. “But it will be worth the wait.”