'MacGruber' film eyes cast

Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer in negotiations to star

"MacGruber," the recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit that parodies "MacGyver," is one step closer to going before cameras as a big-screen movie.

Ryan Phillippe is in negotiations to star in the feature, with Val Kilmer also in negotiations to also join the Relativity Media production, which will be filmed under Relativity's Rogue banner for distribution through Universal. Will Forte and Kristen Wiig are reprising their roles from the skits.

Jorma Taccone, who created the character and directed most of the skits, is helming; "SNL" producer and creator Lorne Michaels is producing.

The "MacGruber" sketches starred Forte as MacGyver's son with Wiig as an assistant who always find themselves, along with that week's guest star, in a control room with a ticking bomb about to go off. MacGruber gets sidelined by personal issues, and the bomb goes off.

Forte and Taccone wrote the parodies with John Solomon. The trio wrote the feature script, which takes the story in a completely different direction from the skits yet remains strangely familiar: The legendary, much decorated MacGruber is pulled out of retirement as a monk in Ecuador by a colonel, who needs him once more to fight on behalf of his country. This time the mission involves going up against the evil Cunth, who has a nuclear warhead; the mission is personal because Cunth killed MacGruber's bride.

The movie version would see Phillippe playing Piper, an Army officer forced to pair up with a reluctant MacGruber. Kilmer would be Cunth.

The project has been an open secret around town, with Forte even talking about it on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" last month.

The film harkens back to an earlier era when comedies based on "SNL" skits were commonplace, especially in the wake of the massive success of 1992's "Wayne's World" and its sequel. The trend eventually faded, seemingly dovetailing with the relevancy of the show itself.

In recent years, late-night mainstay has regained popularity and critical acclaim; the ultimate boxoffice fate of "MacGruber" could foreshadow whether a new crop of "SNL" movies invades screens. (Paramount produced and distributed the previous "SNL"-based movies, but is not involved in this production.)

"MacGruber" movie is fast-tracked and at this stage looks like it could make it to the screen before a "MacGyver" movie, which is in development at New Line.

Phillippe, repped by WME and the Schiff Co., recently wrapped production on "The Bang Bang Club," a true-life drama about four photographers set in apartheid-era South Africa.

Kilmer, repped by ICM and Management 360, recently finished shooting "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans."

Taccone is repped by UTA and Mosaic Media.
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