When you hear Merlin, the image that might come to mind is a scrawny old white dude with a long silver beard. Well, Guy Ritchie has just proven his take on the King Arthur tale will break from expectation, thanks to the casting of his Knights of the Round Table's Merlin.
Variety reports Djimon Hounsou has entered into negotiations to play the Merlin-like role in Guy Ritchie Knights of the Round Table. The character will serve as a mentor to a young King Arthur just as he has in many legends, but he won't be keeping the long-used moniker "Merlin." Should he sign on, the Benin-born performer would join a cast that already includes English actor Charlie Hunnam as King Arthur and Barcelona-born ingénue Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Guinevere.
Djimon Hounsou has been on a hot streak lately. He lent his distinctively deep voice to the villain of How to Train Your Dragon 2, then played the supporting role of Ronan minion Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy. Coming up, he's set to appear in the hotly anticipated Furious 7 as well as David Yate's live-action Tarzan. Knights of the Round Table could prove a major step for the performer, giving him a seemingly juicy role in what will be a potentially lengthy-franchise, not to mention a follow-up to Guy Ritchie's hit Sherlock Holmes movies. Basically, the sky is the limit for this talented character actor.
Knights of the Round Table first drew our notice in January of this year, when Guy Ritchie resurrected a long-stuck adaptation, simply by attaching himself to helm. Previously titled King Arthur, the project had Warner Bros on board, and a by spring had secured a summer 2016 release date, suggesting the studio expects great things from this knight's tale. Last summer, the project turned heads when Idris Elba was the first to be approached to join its cast in the role that is now being offered to Djimon Hounsou. It turns out, the Luther star who was connected to Marvel's Thor franchise, couldn't fit Ritchie's Knights of the Round Table into his schedule.
What's curious, Elba was offer the role of Bedivere, who was a knight, not a wizard. Though the part was described as a mentor to Arthur when Elba was up for it, Variety declines to name-drop this one-handed warrior of legend. The key thing--whether magic or battle be his fore--is that the character is one who is a dedicated right-hand-man and mentor to the king destined to become a legend. Perhaps the difference in these two reports suggests a script change, or possibly, just a radical new interpretation of the old Knights of the Round Table legends. Considering Guy Ritchie brought martial arts and steam punk appeal into Sherlock Holmes, we wouldn't put it past him.
Knights of the Round Table is slated to hit theaters on July 22nd, 2016.