Tom Cruise is set to spearhead a second big-screen take on a long-running 60s spy TV drama. The Mission: Impossible star is in talks to appear in a film based on The Man from UNCLE for director Guy Ritchie, according to Deadline.
Warner Bros has been developing a movie based on the cult espionage show since the 90s and Ritchie replaces Steven Soderbergh in the director's chair. The Ocean's Eleven film-maker had proposed a version with George Clooney in the lead, but Clooney later left the project, citing unwillingness to take on an action role because he was having surgery to his neck and back.
Cruise would be taking on a third action franchise, with Mission: Impossible certain to get a fifth outing in the wake of Brad Bird-directed Ghost Protocol's $694m (£459m) box-office haul last year and his recent Jack Reacher film (a hearty $215m worldwide on a $60m budget) also set for a follow up. The actor will be seen next on the big screen in sci-fi outings Oblivion, for Tron's Joseph Kosinski, and All You Need Is Kill, for The Bourne Identity's Doug Liman.
The original Man from UNCLE TV show, which aired from 1964 to 1968, saw Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as members of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, the former playing American spy Napoleon Solo and the latter a Russian agent called Illya Kuryakin. It was one of a number of espionage shows that flourished after the success of the early James Bond films, and 007 creator Ian Fleming was among those involved in its conception.
The show joins other 60s spy series that have made it to the big screen, including Mission Impossible, Get Smart and The Avengers. Of these, only the first has proved to have any legs in multiplexes.
Ritchie is currently hot property in Hollywood after successfully directing two blockbuster action-oriented Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ingenious sleuth. He was recently reported to be the bookie's favourite to take on the next Bond film after fellow Briton Sam Mendes confirmed he will not return for a follow-up to the $1bn-grossing Skyfall.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk