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Director Shawn Levy Talks About How to Translate ‘Uncharted’ to Film

Uncharted, Sony Interactive Entertainment

It is a film that has been talked about for many years. It wasn’t until recently, when Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) signed on to play the featured role of Nathan Drake, that the film began moving quickly. The project changed the role of Nathan Drake, from being an established treasure hunter, to making this film an origin story for Drake. Director Shawn Levy spoke about why he is making Uncharted, and what he will need to do to make the film successful.

The only glimpse of a young Nathan Drake was seen in the 3rd and 4th games in the franchise, but these showed Drake as a kid. In the interview with Nerdist, Levy spoke about why he is passionate about Uncharted, and what potential does he see in a live-action adaptation:

Uncharted, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment


“For me, it was a fact that the game is awesome; the spirit of the game, with its action set pieces, it’s imaginative setting, and above all, the kind of rogue swagger of Nathan. Those are things that I think make for a great movie.

And, for me, the kind of the big, like the aha moment, if you want to call it that, was I met with Tom Holland and he kind of put it really succinctly and saying, if we do the origin of Drake, that is something that we haven’t seen as the plot of games 1, 2, 3, 4.

We’ve seen a snippet of an origin of Sully and Drake meeting in the past, but here’s maybe an opportunity to do a treasure-hunting action movie with attitude, with a protagonist – and chapter of the protagonist’s life – that you can’t get for free, at home, by just playing the game.

So, we’re trying to kind of take the spirit and the tone and the attitude of the game – and the crazy, visual spectacle of it — but apply it to this Drake chapter that you haven’t seen told. Hopefully, if we can get that right, what you’re doing is: you’re doing right by Uncharted, and you’re also giving an Indiana Jones-type franchise to an audience that didn’t grow up on Indiana Jones.”

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Levy says that he knows why video game adaptations fail typically, and he thinks that Uncharted will change that:

“Well, for one thing, as I think we’ve all seen as fans – for 15 years at least – straight adaptations of games. I don’t know that any have ever worked. Either they’re bad, or they’re decent but still unsuccessful… I don’t want to just do a live-action version of action sequences we’ve seen in the game; I want action sequences that are equal in audacity but aren’t what you played.

Secondly, I think the only thing you can make sure you do, to differentiate, is a deeper dive into character. So, whether it’s Sully, whether it’s Drake, whether it’s Elena or Chloe, or whoever the characters are – I’m not saying who’s in this movie – I think as a film director, the onus is on me to take a deeper, more nuanced dive into character, because that’s kind of what a movie needs to be truly cinematic. It needs visuals and it needs that nuanced dive in character.”

There is no release date for the Uncharted big screen adaptation.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy hits stores this week, only on the PS4.