Paramount Pictures has greenlit a reboot of the classic slapstick comedy, The Naked Gun, with Liam Neeson in talks to star and Akiva Schaffer set to direct the project, according to a report from Deadline. It is believed that Neeson will play the son of officer Frank Drebin, the character played in the original by Leslie Nielsen in the 80s comedy classic series.
Nielsen starred as the daft detective over three films as an icon of deadpan comedy in the beloved series of slapstick features. The original film was such a hit that it spawned a pair of sequels, and helped reignite Nielsen‘s fading star in the 1980s. Seth MacFarlane and Erica Huggins are producing the film via their Fuzzy Door production company, with Schaffer also on board as executive producer. Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, who just finished working alongside Schaffer on Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers for Disney, are set to write the script.
Deadline state that tentative talks around rebooting the franchise began after the death of Nielsen in 2010. The right story proved hard to nail down, but now with a story direction appropriate to continue the comedy series, and following the success of Top Gun: Maverick, another 1980s nostalgia-fuelled hit, development on the latest Naked Gun went full tilt.
Neeson has reinvented himself previously from that of a serious leading drama actor to an action star late in his career. His breakthrough role came in Steven Spielberg‘s Holocaust drama Schindler’s List in 1993, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. In the late 2000s, he turned his hand to action films like the Taken series, The Commuter, Non-Stop and The Grey.
However, the actor has previously demonstrated devastatingly good comic timing, not only with MacFarlane previously on Ted but also in an appearance on Ricky Gervais‘ comedy series Life’s Too Short. In that, he portrayed a heightened version of himself that was keen to move away from serious acting into improvisational comedy. The new role will certainly call on him to use those comedic chops.
Schaffer, Gregor and Mand are also coming off success with Rescue Rangers which was the winner of the Best TV Movie award at the Emmys. Schaffer is also a member of comedy group The Lonely Island, and has previously directed Hot Rod, The Watch, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.