Idris Elba
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Idris Elba will direct, star in new version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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May 23, 2018, 5:14 PM EDT

Following his recent return to the Marvel realm as Heimdall in last year's Thor: Ragnarok and last month's Avengers: Infinity War, Idris Elba is now about to tackle one of the all-time classic tragic monsters.

The Wrap reports that Elba will direct, produce, and star in a "modern retelling" of The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Netflix. Elba will also produce music for the film, which may go under a different title and is being scripted by Michael Mitnick.

The source material is the 1831 book of the same name (published in France as Notre-Dame de Paris) by Victor Hugo, now considered one of the great Gothic/Romantic novels of its time. Set in 1492, it tells the story of Quasimodo, a horribly deformed bell-ringer for Notre Dame Cathedral who is in love with a beautiful gypsy girl named Esmeralda.

The epic story has been adapted many times over the years, starting with a 1905 short silent film and continuing with more than a dozen film versions and five TV iterations. The most famous big-screen version may be the 1923 silent film that made Lon Chaney a star, while the most recent major version is Disney's 1996 animated musical adaptation. Other notable remakes include a 1939 movie starring Charles Laughton and the first color version, released in 1956 and featuring Anthony Quinn.


Credit: Universal Pictures

It will be interesting to see how exactly Elba's take on the story updates it, and whether a modern version will still retain the elements — including the appearance of Quasimodo himself — that have made the story iconic in many ways.

Elba's first film as a director, a crime thriller called Yardie, is due out later this year after premiering last January at the Sundance Film Festival. He's already in business with Netflix: Elba headlined 2015's critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation (which won him a Screen Actors Guild Award for best supporting actor), and he'll star in the streaming service's upcoming comedy Turn Up Charlie.

His genre credits, aside from his five appearances in the Marvel movies, are considerable and include movies like Prometheus, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Beyond, and the ill-fated The Dark Tower. We'll wait and see whether his take on the well-worn tale of Quasimodo adds something new to the story and becomes a genre classic of its own.