McG says Johnson not in 20,000 Leagues

[Updated: Production Weekly rescinded its original report on its Twitter feed, posting: "Correction: Dwayne Johnson not involved in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo."]

Director McG told SCI FI Wire that, contrary to reports, Dwayne Johnson is not—repeat, not—set to star in his upcoming remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Speaking by telephone on May 4, the director-producer of the upcoming sci-fi actioner Terminator Salvation revealed that he's never spoken with Johnson and had actually offered the lead role to another genre favorite: Will Smith. Following are edited excerpts from our exclusive interview with McG.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is next for you. What intrigues you about that as a story and as a filmmaking challenge?

McG: Well, I'm a big fan of Jules Verne, and what he was doing in the mid-19th century in France I think speaks to what the world is experiencing today: the notion of power that can be destructive and wonderful. In that respect it's an allegory for nuclear power, but it's also my attempt to tip my cap to Raiders of the Lost Ark. "He who holds the ark will lead an army that can't be defeated."

What makes Dwayne Johnson right as your leading man?

McG: He's not. I don't know where that came from. I've never spoken to Dwayne Johnson. You can be the first to report that I have no idea where that came from. I wish him every success, but I never spoke to Dwayne about this.

So do you have a leading man, then?

McG: I do not. I'm out to Will Smith.

Well, everyone is running with that Dwayne Johnson story

McG: I've never spoken to Dwayne Johnson about this. I like him. He's great. He's a wonderful human being and an excellent screen presence, but we have not spoken about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Not a word.

When are you planning to go into production on 20,000 Leagues?

McG: We're prepping it right now.

So you really need to get a fast commitment from Smith—

McG: My intention is to show him Terminator and see if he responds to it. We're friendly. Weíll see if it's in the cards.

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