NEW YORK, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Tom Hanks has been pegged to play the lead role in Sony's upcoming film "The Da Vinci Code," the adaptation of author Dan Brown's best-selling thriller, Newsweek has learned. Director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer, the duo who helped make Hanks a star with their 1984 comedy "Splash" and rehired him 11 years later for "Apollo 13," cast Hanks as the globe-trotting scholar Robert Langdon, a decision based partially on the cerebral (riddle-solving, code-cracking) nature of the action in "Da Vinci," Newsweek reports in the November 22 issue (on newsstands Monday, November 15).
"Tom is an exciting actor to watch thinking," Howard tells General Editor Devin Gordon. "We probably don't need his status from a box-office standpoint" -- by now, "The Da Vinci Code" sells itself -- "but he gives Langdon instant legitimacy."
Howard and Grazer are taking their time casting "Da Vinci," but plan to hire actual foreign actors to play the book's foreign characters. "If there's any book that's supposed to be an international thriller, says Grazer, "this is it." Grazer tells Newsweek that one recent Oscar winner inquired about the role of Parisian cryptologist Sophie Neveu, "and she could easily do it. But I think the audience would be let down a bit. They expect a French girl." As for the role of bullish cop Bezu Fache, Gordon reports that Jean Reno is on Grazer's short list.
Grazer first got wind of "The Da Vinci Code" early in 2003, when Joel Surnow -- creator of the acclaimed TV series "24" -- thought "Da Vinci" would make a terrific story line for the show's third season. Surnow asked his boss, Grazer, to look into acquiring the rights, Newsweek reports. But as Brown had no intention of handing over his book to a mere TV show, Grazer says that "it quickly became clear that we had no chance." A few months later Sony paid $6 million for the movie rights -- and hired Grazer as the producer for the biggest film adaptation since "Harry Potter."
The 53-year-old Grazer, who also paired with Howard on the Oscar-winning "A Beautiful Mind," has several upcoming projects on his slate, including an animated "Curious George" film with Will Ferrell and "Fun with Dick and Jane" starring Jim Carrey. Grazer is also producing a documentary about the notorious skinflick "Deep Throat," Gordon reports. Due out in February, it may be the first NC-17 movie released by a major studio in years.