Although the story sound like something from The Onion, several reputable Italian news sources are reporting that actor Robert De Niro will be starring in a remake of the 1953 classic film Roman Holiday, which featured Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.
The film, funded in part by the Rome and Lazio Film Commission, will be directed by newcomer James McDonnell, and De Niro will play opposite an as-yet-unchosen costar for the role of Princess Ann.
As suggested by Italian daily Il Messaggero, it is hard to imagine the 72-year-old De Niro zipping around on a Vespa through the streets, squares and back alleys of the Italian capital. It will also take some serious rewriting to put the septuagenarian into the shoes of cub reporter Joe Bradley. Yet this is allegedly what will be happening in “a few months” when the great American actor will supposedly land in town to shoot a remake of the iconic movie directed by William Wyler that took the world by storm.
The remake is part of the new international productions backed by the Italian region of Lazio with a fund of 23 million euros a year through its regional Film Commission.
The project apparently is the latest in a series of Rome filmings responding to aggressive recruiting by the Italian capital. Rome and the Lazio region have recently hosted the filming of the blockbuster James Bond movie, Spectre, the mega-set of Ben Hur (another remake), and the great circus of film flop Zoolander 2.
In 1954, Roman Holiday won three Oscars and became an instant cult film, launching best actress Audrey Hepburn on her meteoric career. Cary Grant turned down the part of Joe Bradley, which turned out to be fortuitous for the 37-year-old Gregory Peck, who snapped it up.
There is no doubt regarding De Niro’s acting ability, but without a serious rethinking of the storyline, it is hard to fathom how the director will pull it off.
Who knows? Perhaps the casting director will recruit Angela Merkel to play opposite De Niro as the winsome and mysterious leader of an unnamed European nation.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter: @tdwilliamsrome