Development on Vincenzo Natali's Neuromancer has been quietly underway for a couple of years, and his adaptation of William Gibson's cyberpunk classic is now starting to build a head of steam. The arrival of Lorenzo di Bonaventura to the project was announced in May, and with a heavyweight producer comes the potential for some A-list casting: Moviehole are reporting that Mark Wahlberg and Liam Neeson have both been offered roles.
Wahlberg has been offered the part of protagonist Case, the hacker and thief ("cowboy and rustler" in Gibson's description) at the centre of the story. In the book, he's a drug addict who, as punishment for some ill-advised thievery, has had his nervous system sabotaged by a mycotoxin that prevents him from "jacking in" to cyberspace.
Neeson is up for the role of Armitage, the shady ex-military spook who offers to cure Case, provided he participates in a none-more-secret mission against the powerful Tessier-Ashpool family and the sinister artificial intelligence Wintermute.
It's hard to talk about Armitage without straying into spoiler territory, but suffice to say his background is revealed to be extremely complex and odd, and would provide plenty for an actor like Neeson to chew on. Case, meanwhile, is only 24 in the book, and having spent most of his life online, is presumably not very athletic. Wahlberg is more of a stretch for that role then, but he's surprised us before...
It's still very early days though. Neither Wahlberg or Neeson is yet officially attached, but any Neuromancer news is good news, we're saying. Splice director Natali continues to insist on the film's independent, non-mainstream, non-homogenised cred, so talk of big names needn't concern us overmuch: they're helping the wider cause of getting Neuromancer made and seen