Reader poll Julian Assange™ is the natural choice to play John McAfee in a movie of the anti-virus pioneer's colourful life, according to a poll by Reg readers.
The Wikileaks founder secured 148 votes in our poll, making him a shoe-in for the starring role in Running in the Background: The True Story of John McAfee. The Australian took more votes than potential rivals such as John Malkovich (117), Robert Downey, Jr (115) and Eugene Kaspersky (114).
Montreal-based Impact Future Media snapped up the exclusive rights to McAfee's life story for an undisclosed sum last week, around the time he was planning his flight from Belize into Guatemala. McAfee is wanted for questioning by police in Belize as a person of interest - but is officially not a suspect in the murder of his neighbour Gregory Faull in Belize on 11 November.
McAfee went on the run with his 20-year-old girlfriend for three weeks before crossing the border to Guatemala.
All this was pretty inconvenient to the authorities in Guatemala, who were in the process of negotiating a treaty to the Belizeans, so they responded on Wednesday by sending McAfee on a compulsory one-way flight to Miami. It's not clear if the authorities in Belize will seek McAfee's extradition. Meanwhile McAfee is looking to secure the passage to the US of his girlfriend, Samantha Vanegas.
Al this sets the finale of Running in the Background: The True Story of John McAfee up for a cliffhanger ending. We hope the remainder of the film focuses on McAfee's antics after he became the target of central America's most publicised manhunt.
McAfee's escapades on the run include shooting and burying his dogs after they were allegedly poisoned by police officers; sleeping on lice-infested beds; donning various disguises including blacking up with boot polish and sticking a shaved-down tampon up his nose to disguise himself as a trinket salesman; and sending a look-alike over the Mexican border with a North Korean passport as a diversionary tactic while he slipped over the border to Guatemala.
Other plot elements might include his allegations of widespread corruption among politicians and police in Belize and setting up a frequently updated (and almost as frequently self contradictory) blog while still on the run. Another interesting episode includes McAfee suffering a Tony Soprano-style panic attack last weekend - apparently brought on by poor diet, dehydration and chain smoking - that was initially reported as a mild heart attack. The fugitive has since admitted that the episode was a ruse intended to avoid being handed back to the Belizeans and buy time for his Guatemalan legal team to work.
Even leaving out McAfee's earlier fondness for the dangerous sport of aerotrekking there's more than enough material to work with. We're sure Julian Assange could carry the job off manfully, assuming he's allowed to leave the confines of the Ecuadorian embassy in London (or even if not, with sufficient use of CGI).
If not then Reg readers came up with a number of credible suggestions for the role in comments to our earlier story on McAfee: the Movie. Jeremy Irons, Willem Dafoe and Christian Bale (The Machinist) all emerged as creditable suggestions. John Hurt to play an older McAfee emerged as one interesting idea. Several commentards were particularly taken with the idea of casting Christopher Walken in the role (especially good if the movie calls for any song and dance numbers).
That still leaves the thorny question of who best to direct McAfee's incredible story. We suggested Bruce Robinson (How to Get Ahead in Advertising, The Rum Diaries) and Terry Gilliam (Brazil), among others. Gilliam would be a really solid choice. However since the film he's currently working on, The Zero Theorem, deals with a eccentric and reclusive computer genius who lives in an Orwellian dystopia, following that up with a tale about another eccentric (though anything but reclusive) tech type might not elicit much interest.
Reg commentards suggested Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream), Pedro Almodovar, Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now) and David Lynch as alternatives. Geniuses all and well capable of handling the weird but "Dave 126" nailed it when he suggested Werner Herzog. The director behind Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre Wrath of the God and Rescue Dawn has a proven ability to handle both madness (on set or as a theme) and jungle escape movies.
"I've already expressed support for Gilliam to get the job in a couple of posts on these forums, but on reflection, I think Werner Herzog is a strong candidate. Why? He's delivered altered states of consciousness in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (2009), and has also directed an escape through the jungle film, Rescue Dawn (2006)."
Some of you lot have little confidence that the film will be anything more challenging than a TV film of the week.
"The obvious way to film this [is as a] double feature with Kim Dotcom," said commentard Charles Manning, summing up the feelings of several. To which we'd respond that Danny Boyle created a critically acclaimed, multiple Oscar winning film from a script based on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, so anything's possible. ®