Over the century or so of moviemaking, there have been many projects to start, only to stop. Many projects that would languish in development hell, never to be made. Many projects to get the green light only to see a red light appear out of nowhere. One such project was a remake of Brandon Lee’s 1994 The Crow that was set to star Tom Hiddleston.
The project, which has been talked about for years, was to be brought to the screen by director F. Javier Gutierrez, had been attached to many big stars such as Bradley Cooper, Alexander Skarsgård, and James McAvoy, seemed to have finally settled on Tom Hiddleston, Loki of The Avengers fame. The movie’s makeup designer, Bill Corso, even created a bit of concept art which shows Hiddleston in the Eric Draven Crow make-up. Check out what Hiddleston would have looked like.
Tom Hiddleston was brought onto The Crow project after a long period of script development. Gutierrez told Bloody Disgusting his process in finding an actor, “This was not a typical process for a movie. We were working with actors from day one. I met actors when I arrived on the project. We considered James McAvoy for a time. He was one of the more ‘name’ choices the studio was exploring. I met with every single actor in town, it was insane. Down the road, I talked with Tom Hiddleston, who was an actor I loved. He was not that well known at the time. He had just made the first Avengers movie. He was really passionate about the role.” And he looks great in as Draven, right down to the scar. “We tried to make it as faithful to the graphic novel as possible. Grounded, and with attention to detail (I wanted to show the scar). Bill is brilliant, and did an amazing job.”
But for some unknown reason, Tom Hiddleston dropped out of the project. “I’m not sure why Hiddleston dropped out,” said Cliff Dorfman, the scribe who wrote the reboot. Thankfully though, the team immediately had another actor lined up. “But immediately after, we had Luke Evans. We were just thrilled. Dracula [Untold] was just coming out from Universal. Luke is a very special actor. I think he would’ve been the absolute perfect Crow. He had the precise amount of vulnerability versus power, love versus hate. He had all of those emotions at the tips of his fingers, and right behind his eyes. Wasn’t like Tom wouldn’t have been great, he would’ve been amazing. And then we thought, ‘Oh shit! Luke! We’re lucky again!’ Like, ‘Maybe this project isn’t cursed! Maybe this project is really supposed to go!’”
Corso put together more concept art, this time with Luke Evans as Draven instead of Tom Hiddleston, replete with the scar. You can see that here. The director and writer loved Evans in the role. Evans was just releasing Dracula Untold so the pair felt lucky that Evans was going to step into such a big role. “I got to know Luke Evans. What I love about him – not only is he a talented actor, but he was very sensitive,” said Gutierrez to Bloody Disgusting. “He’s a beautiful soul. I thought that would make him a good match. And he was a fresh face at the time.”
But once again, the project lingered. No Tom Hiddleston, no Luke Evans, no movie. They had even gone as far as casting Forest Whitaker as the main bad guy. How this movie didn’t continue is a mystery. When the movie didn’t appear to be moving forward, Gutierrez finally had to move on from his directing duties. He moved on to The Ring, while Dorfman was holding out hope. It wasn’t to be. “So Javier left to do Rings at Paramount,” Mr. Dorfman explained. “Something happened with the option expiring, Luke had dropped out, and unbeknownst to all of us Relativity was staring down the barrel of a bankruptcy. But The Crow was something they really believed could save the studio, so they were really doing their best to keep this thing together. So I don’t hear anything once Javi goes to do Rings. Everything went radio silent, but I’m still close with everyone at Relativity and all of the producers, but I was also doing a lot of shit.”
Brandon Lee, who gave a great performance (his final) as Eric Draven, was tragically killed on the set of The Crow during filming. The son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee was a world-class martial artist himself. Sadly, though, the then 28-year-old actor died after a dummy round from a gun was fired into his body, killing him. The movie hadn’t finished filming all of Lee’s parts, so they used stuntmen and special effects to finish the film.
Projects such as The Crow reboot can linger and linger. Hollywood is notorious for it. What a shame for this one, though. Tom Hiddleston, even Luke Evans, bringing back Eric Draven would have been fun to watch. Hopefully, we can one day see a new version of the James O’Barr graphic novel make its way to the big screen.