Chad Stahelski Opens Up About Bill Skarsgård’s Casting in ‘The Crow’

Following nearly sixteen years of development, The Crow is finally ready to seek vengeance once again. Based on James O’Barr’s 1989 comic-book series of the same name, the upcoming supernatural fantasy film was first announced back in 2008. Various actors were in talks to lead over the years, including Bradley Cooper, Jason Momoa, Tom Hiddleston, and Luke Evans. Bill Skarsgård eventually landed the role, starring alongside FKA Twigs in the film, directed by Rupert Sanders (Ghost in the Shell).

Skarsgård plays Eric Draven, a murdered man out to avenge his and his fiancée’s (Twigs) deaths. “A crow carries their soul to the land of the dead,” the narrator says in the first trailer. “But sometimes something so bad happens that the soul cannot rest until you put the wrong things right.” The trailer also shows a grittier and bloodier direction for The Crow. As Skarsgård tells Esquire in our latest cover story, he is “drawn toward [dark characters] the same way they’re drawn toward me.” The Crow lands in theaters on August 23.

The original 1994 film was famously mired in tragedy. A prop-gun disaster fatally wounded lead actor Brandon Lee, the son of legendary action star Bruce Lee. Though Brandon already filmed most of his scenes, the rest of the movie was recut and edited with stunt doubles and digital effects. Chad Shahelski, Keanu Reeves’s former stunt double and the director of the John Wick franchise, served as one of Brandon’s stand-ins after his death. The Crow went on to become a cult classic and grossed $94 million at the box office on a $23 million budget. Three more Crow films were released, including two direct-to-video sequels.

Though the upcoming reimagining is technically the fifth film in the franchise, it marks the first time that the story of Eric Draven will be retold for a new audience. “I was a huge fan of the original film growing up as a kid and was so honored to take on the role of Eric Draven,” Skarsgård said in the official press release for the trailer. “But really what drew me to it was what Rupert Sanders wanted to do with it. He wanted to completely reimagine the story and the character and tailor it toward a modern audience....I felt a responsibility to Eric’s story and endeavored to stay true to the spirit of the source material.”

There are fans of the original who are skeptical about the reimagining, but many industry figures are excited about what Skarsgård and Sanders will bring to the story. When I heard Bill was doing it, I was like, ‘That’s a good take,’ ” Stahelski says in our cover story about Skarsgård. "I knew Bill was going to bring something different. Bill’s got that ethereal nature that makes him feel out of this world, or from another planet or existence.” Sanders also hopes that the new film pays homage to Lee’s iconic role while forging a new direction for the influential series. “It’s romantic in the same sense as a Cure song,” the director tells Esquire. “There’s a melancholy there.”

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