Robert Downey Jr., Shane Black, And Joel Silver Team Up For ‘Play Dirty’ And Other Parker Adaptations

by Erik Amaya

Robert Downey Jr. will be Richard Stark’s Parker in the upcoming Amazon Studios film, Play Dirty.

The character, famously created by crime writer Donald E. Westlake under the Stark pseudonym, has appeared in various films under a variety of names, but only once as “Parker” — the 2013 film Parker starring Jason Statham. Previous adaptations, which include 1968’s Point Blank, 1973’s The Outfit, and 1999’s Payback, saw the character renamed per Westlake’s instructions. Although willing to allow the stories to be adapted to film, he was very protective of the character. Famously, he personally authorized the late Darwyn Cooke to adapt several of the Parker stories as a series of graphic novels.

Play Dirty is intended to also be a springboard to an ongoing series of Parker films and, potentially, TV shows. Downey Jr., Susan Downey, their production company Team Downey, and The Matrix producer Joel Silver are teaming up to make that dream a reality. The Nice GuysShane Black is also on board to adapt (alongside writer Charles Mondry) while Anthony Bagarozzi will direct the feature. It is unclear which Parker novel the film will be based on, but Black tackling any Parker story is something to be excited about.

If you’ve read the Parker novels, Cooke’s adaptations, or seen any of the previous film versions, you know the score with Parker. He’s a no-nonsense thief who lives by a strict code of conduct. He abhors kidnappers or getting swindled. In The Hunter (adapted as Point Blank and Payback), he dismantles an entire arm of a crime syndicate to get the seemingly insignificant sum owed him after a job goes south. Also of note, Parker gets his face changed at the end of that story, suggesting Team Downey’s Parker projects after Play Dirty could see the character played by another actor.

As with all newly announced projects, it is unclear how quickly Play Dirty will arrive on Amazon, but we hope for a quick turnaround as proper hard-boiled crime films are always welcome thing.

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