In a shocking bit of inspired casting, eccentric German filmmaker Werner Herzog will play the villain in One Shot, a Paramount thriller directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
Based on a novel by Lee Child, the story centers on a military sniper being arrested in connection with a seemingly random attack on five innocent civilians. Cruise is producing the movie and starring as Jack Reacher, an ex-military policeman turned drifter who is brought in to investigate the murders.
According to Variety, Herzog will play “The Zec,” an ex-prisoner of war who leads a conspiracy to frame a sniper. It’s the first major movie role for Herzog, who is best known for directing documentaries like Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World and, most recently, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.
This is a surprising development since Herzog hasn’t acted much before, only contributed voice work to “The Simpsons,” a bit role in The Grand, and first-person experiences in each of his documentaries. But his distinctive accent, calm demeanor and legendary reputation are perfectly-suited for The Zec’s quiet, menacing persona. In 2006, Herzog rescued Joaquin Phoenix from his overturned car on Sunset Boulevard and, three weeks later, was shot by an air rifle during a BBC interview that he later called, “an insignificant bullet.”
Rosamund Pike plays the sniper’s defense lawyer, Helen Rodin, and Richard Jenkins will play her father and the District Attorney, Alex Rodin. Robert Duvall recently joined the cast in a small role as Cash, the proprietor of a gun range the suspect frequented.
Meanwhile, Child recently defended Cruise’s decision to essentially cast himself as Reacher, despite being entirely too small for the 6’5″ and “hulking” character. “People think we should have had an actor that looks more like Reacher is described in the books,” Child told the BBC. “First of all there aren’t any such actors, so it’s much more a question of which actor has the talent and screen presence to create what Reacher does on the screen, and that really comes down to finding the actor with the most talent.”
I wrote a comparison between Child’s novel and McQuarrie’s script, in case you’re interested in much more detail on how the movie will shape up (link here). One Shot is currently shooting in Pittsburgh and will hit theaters February 8, 2013.