Bill Nighy Is A Wild Target

Playing a hitman on the run in Brit-com

Frankly, Empire would pay to see the great Bill Nighy in anything, be it a hard-hitting drama about a guy watching paint dry, or a twisting thriller about a guy watching grass grow, or – perhaps most challenging of all – a fly-on-the-wall docudrama about an Empire journalist writing news stories about how Empire would pay to see the great Bill Nighy in anything.

For, with his idiosyncratic line readings and perpetual air of bemusement, as if he’s in a joke that nobody else could possibly understand, Nighy brings a freshness and unspeakably cool edge to anything he deigns to be in. He is, frankly, the British Chris Walken.

But we’re especially stoked by the premise of Nighy’s latest flick, Wild Target, which started shooting today. For, in a premise that can only be described as Ronnie Corbett’s Sorry meets Leon, Nighy plays an ace hitman who lives under the thumb of his battleaxe mother. We are so there.

But wait – there’s more. Nighy’s renowned hitman, Victor Maynard, finds himself reluctantly saddled with two sidekicks – Emily Blunt, as a target he didn’t have the heart to kill, and Rupert Grint as a young man who chooses Victor as his mentor, in the mistaken belief that he’s a private detective.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, there’s the small matter of his domineering mother (Eileen Atkins)… oh, and Rupert Everett is also running around as the client who wanted Blunt dead, and now wants to kill Victor as punishment for letting her live.

As pointed out in the comments section below, this is based on the French comedy, Cible Emouvante (which we're told translates as... Wild Target!), which starred the great Jean Rochefort in what will be the Nighy role, so it has a fine pedigree. Certainly, the cast of this new version is impressive enough – and we haven’t even mentioned the likes of Martin Freeman and Gregor Fisher, who are also on board.

And the director, Jonathan Lynn, has an impressive track record with comedy, from the TV sitcom classics, Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, while his film credits include the underrated Clue, My Cousin Vinny and a film that could, if you were generous, hail as something of a British cracker: Nuns On The Run.

Of course, he’s also directed Sgt. Bilko and The Whole Nine Yards, but let’s not hold that against him. His last film as a director was The Fighting Temptations, almost six years ago, so let’s hope that he can shake off some ring rustiness and make Wild Target live up to its name. And by that, of course, we mean the first part of its name. Besides, with Nighy on board, how can it possibly go wrong?

Filming started today on the movie, and will continue for the next six weeks in London and the Isle Of Man.