Daniel Radcliffe Swaps Magic for Video Games in ‘GTA’ Movie

Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Daniel Radcliffe may have just found his next out-of-the-box role. The actor is reportedly currently in negotiations to star in Grand Theft Auto, an upcoming film centered on the hugely popular video game and its creator.

The 90-minute drama, which is being made by BBC Films, is based on the 2012 non-fiction novel by David Kushner, Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto. It will chronicle the real-life story of the battle between Grand Theft Auto creator Sam Houser and the now-disbarred Miami lawyer, Jack Thompson, who spent years fighting against what he argued were unacceptable levels of violence in video games.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Radcliffe will play Houser, the British president and co-founder of Rockstar Games, the company behind hugely successful games, such as Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, and Red Dead. Houser is widely credited for helping transform Grand Theft Auto into one of the biggest video game franchises of all time, although he was also known to amp up the violence factor in the series.

The face-off between Thompson and Houser garnered plenty of attention in the early 2000s, when the former first began his campaign against Rockstar Games and, in particular, Grand Theft Auto. Though the game was first released in 1997, it didn’t garner global attention until its first 3D installment, GTA III. That’s also when it caught the eye of Thompson, who at that point had already launched a crusade against several rap artists, including 2 Live Crew. He soon began painting the game as a symbol of the state of the video game industry overall and attempted to connect it as with school shooting and various other acts of violence among children. After several failed attempts to file litigation involving the game (as well as some of his other Rockstar Games targets like Bully and Manhunt), he was permanently disbarred from the Florida Bar for inappropriate conduct in 2008.

The role of Thompson has not yet been cast, but British director Owen Harris (Misfits, Black Mirror) has already signed on to helm the one-off special. James Wood penned the script for the project, which was previously titled Rockstar Games. Meanwhile, Jim Spencer (All Stars, Kill Command) will produce and Mark Hedgecoe (The Challenger Disaster) is set to executive produce.

Should he close a deal, the film would mark the latest unexpected role for Radcliffe following the end of the Harry Potter franchise in 2011. The actor has clearly been looking to distance himself from his most famous role in recent years, showing off his versatility with a series of wide-ranging film choices. In 2013, he portrayed beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the biographical indie drama Kill Your Darlings. Last year, he also starred in both the dark fantasy horror comedy Horns and the Irish-Canadian romantic comedy What If.

Potential Grand Theft Auto gig aside, the actor is already expected to have quite the busy year. He’s reportedly making a cameo in this spring’s Amy Schumer-starring comedy Trainwreck and will also play Igor in Fox’s upcoming take on the classic monster tale Victor Frankenstein. Also on the pipeline is the coming sequel Now You See Me: The Second Act. The magic-themed caper thriller, which will feature Radcliffe in part of a star-studded ensemble cast, recently wrapped filming and is due to hit theaters in 2016.

No premiere date for Grand Theft Auto has been set yet, but the movie is expected to begin filming later this month.

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