Jon Bernthal to Star in 'American Gigolo' Update for Showtime

Jon Bernthal - Getty handout- H 2020
George Pimentel/Getty Images

Showtime's American Gigolo update is finally taking shape.

The Walking Dead and Ford v. Ferrari star Jon Bernthal has been tapped to topline the drama, which has received a formal pilot order from the premium cable network.

Ray Donovan showrunner David Hollander has boarded the project from executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The mega-producer was behind the 1980 original feature film that starred Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton. Jerry Bruckheimer TV's Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed are executive producing. Bernthal will also be credited as a producer.

The potential series is described as a present-day reimagining of the 1980 pic. Bernthal will star as Julian Kaye, who is introduced 18 years after he's been arrested for murder and struggling to find his footing in the modern-day Los Angeles sex industry while seeking the truth about the setup that sent him to prison all those years ago and also hoping to reconnect with Michelle, his one true love. 

"American Gigolo comes with all the sizzle you’d expect, but it also offers a deep dive into the complicated waters of relationships and sexuality in 2020,” Showtime entertainment president Gary Levine said Wednesday in a statement. "We’ve assembled an ‘A’ team to adapt this iconic movie into a Showtime series with the talent and magnetism of Jon Bernthal, the exquisite filmmaking and showrunning of David Hollander, the legendary Jerry Bruckheimer and our new sister studio, Paramount."

The American Gigolo update was first put into development in late 2014, with Bruckheimer overseeing and the film's writer-director Paul Schrader attached as a consultant. The project landed at Showtime two years later with Neil LaBute then set to write the script. It had been on the backburner until this year, when a casting search began for the male lead.

Bernthal, it's worth noting, received multiple offers this pilot season from both cable and streaming platforms. The actor is currently filming King Richard and will appear in The Many Saints of Newark and Platform as well as Small Engine Repair, the latter of which he also produced. His TV credits include Netflix's Marvel drama The Punisher. Bernthal is repped by WME, Dani Bernfeld and attorney David Weber.

For Showtime, American Gigolo is part of a pilot slate that also includes the Vanessa Bayer comedy Big Deal, the drama The President Is Missing, the Lena Headey half-hour Rita and several others. For Hollander, meanwhile, American Gigolo brings him right back to Showtime after the cabler recently canceled the drama Ray Donovan after a seven-season run.