Indiana Jones and the (Mr.) French Connection

By now you’ve seen The Departed, right? It’s so good. And I’m not just talking story; it’s such a fun movie to watch because the dialogue and the acting are so massively entertaining. Do check it out.

One of my favorite performances in the film comes from Ray Winstone, the terrific British actor who plays Mr. French — the loyal right-hand man to psycho crime boss Frank Costigan (Jack Nicholson) — with a gruff, balls-to-the-wall glee.

Mr. Winstone is proving himself to be quite the character actor these days. He was excellent opposite Guy Pearce as Captain Stanley in The Proposition and also appeared in King Arthur and Cold Mountain among many others. Some of you might even remember him from the ahead-of-its-time Robin of Sherwood television series from the mid-1980s, in which he played Will Scarlet. This November he’ll be seen as Beowulf — and Crispin Glover is Grendel! — for director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Romancing the Stone, the Back to the Future trilogy, What Lies Beneath, The Polar Express) from a script co-written by comic book legend Neil Gaiman.

Winstone’s also working on Death of a Ladies’ Man for director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave, the creative duo behind The Proposition (which is tough to watch but highly recommended). Excellent.

Sorry for the detour, but I wanted to give some context. Because! The Hollywood Reporter is reporting this morning that Mr. Winstone has joined the cast of next year’s Indiana Jones movie in “a major role.” According to the article, “sources” say that Winstone will be playing Indy’s sidekick. (So apparently they’re trading in Short Round for a grizzly bear.)

Winstone is excellent in every single thing he’s in, so this is very good news indeed. Especially since he’ll be joining the already-cast Cate Blanchett, whose beauty and grace are luminous to the point of being otherworldly. It has also been reported that Shia LaBeouf was/is in negotiations to play Indy’s son in the film. Which would make sense, since he’s starring in two big films — Transformers and Disturbia — produced by Indy IV director Steven Spielberg this summer.

We shall see. And welcome to the wild world of Indiana Jones, Mr. Winstone.

And what about Sean Connery? Will he return as Indy’s father, Dr. Henry Jones? Back in January, Connery told Scotland on Sunday that he would “perhaps” return, adding, “At the moment there’s nothing decided. I haven’t got the script. Everything depends on the script.”

He certainly has it by now. After all, George Lucas said, “We are writing him in whether he wants to do it or not.”

(I hope that doesn’t mean Lucas is planning to make a CGI Connery. Be very afraid.)

The new Indiana Jones adventure — rumored to be called Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods — rolls like a giant boulder into a theater near you on May 22, 2008.

And. It had better have Sallah in it. “Indy! Indy!”