I originally reported on The Man from Toronto all the way back in January 2020 (doesn’t it feel like 2020 is taking forever?) as the perfect in-the-pocket combinations of stars Kevin Hart and Jason Statham. An action-comedy in which Statham is the deadliest assassin in the world, Hart is mistaken for him, wacky shenanigans ensue? What a Hollywood sure shot! But now, this sure shot is a-changing. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Statham has exited the film, and Woody Harrelson is taking over the role.
Statham and Sony were having creative differences over the tone of The Man from Toronto. Statham wanted it to be an R-rated actioner, whereas Sony wanted it to be a broadly appealing, four-quadrant PG-13 film. Neither party was willing to budge, and Statham hadn’t signed a deal with only six weeks until production began — and then he had enough, leaving the film a week ago.
Harrelson coming in to take the role (after a brief, stressful search for a new leading man) makes sense. Sony loves the guy, especially in demented action-comedies like the Zombieland and Venom franchises. He has always walked a line between menace and comedic instability — perfect for an action-comedy about the world’s deadliest assassin dealing with a knucklehead. And, it must be said, he does bear a certain resemblance to Mr. Statham — to the point where I’d love to see a separate action-comedy starring the two of them as brothers.
Hart remains attached to the picture, directed by Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), written by Robbie Fox (Playing for Keeps) with a story by Fox and Jason Blumenthal (The Equalizer), produced by Blumenthal, Todd Black (The Magnificent Seven), and Steve Tisch (Southpaw). The film also retains its November 20 release date.