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The Hustler Remake: 5 Actors That Would Be Perfect to Play Fast Eddie Felson

By Kody Miller
Published on March 7, 2017

Hollywood is forever in the film remake business, constantly taking old successful movies and churning out a new, fresher product. It often goes horribly and something that was never meant to be touched again ends up being, in a lot of ways, tarnished.

That doesn’t stop movie makers from considering new remake ideas, however, and once made, it surely doesn’t stop us from testing out the new rendition to see if it holds any water when compared to the original.

While remakes often miss the mark, there are certainly some instances where the remodeled version of the original pass with flying colors. Westworld is a new hit TV show on HBO, while 3:10 to Yuma and True Grit were two exceptionally well done western remakes.

The remake hits are few and far between, but it probably depends on who is behind the project, who writes the new version, how the movie is carried out and who is placed as the new face of the reboot.

That latter part is key, especially when we look to an iconic film like The Hustler. Not only did we get two amazing performances by elite actors in Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, but the movie itself had a steady pace and pulled back the curtain on the trying life of a man living the grind.

While it’s hard to imagine a The Hustler remake topping the original, this is such a great story that it deserves to be told again and modernized a bit. We actually got to see that happen in The Color of Money, but that was a different story and even that was still way back in 1986.

It’s time to reboot the amazing “Fast” Eddie Felson character and bring The Hustler back to the big screen.

Whether or not the story would be a hit isn’t the question. It’s who can actually nail the role that Newman played so well at two very different stages in his life.

Should there ever be a The Hustler remake, we’ve got five fine candidates to take on such a daunting task:

Tom Hardy

Fast Eddie needs to be confident, brash and even cocky, but he also needs to be able to dive into the depths of his insecurities and have the resolve to rise above his many challenges to take down Minnesota Fats. Adding wit, charm and cool good looks are a piece to the puzzle, too, and the well-equipped Hardy undoubtedly can do all of that, and then some.

Hardy seems like a natural fit for several reasons. He’s got the look, the chilled demeanor and an ability to portray a tortured soul. His best asset may be his sharp tongue, of course, something in which Fast Eddie is iconic for. Hardy would be able to spew out the iconic lines, look the part and also display the range needed to capture the highs and lows of Felson’s run during his prime.

Jake Gyllenhaal

If we want a darker take on Fast Eddie, look no further than Gyllenhaal, who has some of the best range around and also can add a different twist to the character. This would be a new role for the eclectic Gyllenhaal, but the godson of the great Paul Newman would certainly have interest in filling Newman’s shoes and his range and versatility shown over the years would have him ready for such a reach.

Gyllenhaal has worn many hats, from a soldier to a detective to a boxer to a journalist. He’d give a different spin on Fast Eddie, but we’d still come away impressed and satisfied with a strong, convincing performance.

Charlie Hunnam

Hunnam is a very interesting option, as he’s a more grizzled version but has proven lately he can clean up and offer a little more versatility than you might first anticipate from the Sons of Anarchy star. Hunnam is no stranger to risk and danger from his SOA days and he’s also proven to have underrated range with turns in King Arthur, Pacific Rim and The Lost City of Z.

Hunnam gives off a Brad Pitt vibe, yet brings youth and an added edge to the table. He also has a fast tongue and a cool and collected persona. If The Hustler remake wants to take a sharp corner, they can even modernize the character to be a little more rough around the edges.

Hunnam’s take as Jax Teller shows he can pull that angle off in spades.

Ryan Reynolds

Prefer a rendition of Fast Eddie that is a little smoother but still has the skill, personality, sharp wit, charm and good looks? Look no further than the always funny and ever underrated Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds has certainly left a lasting impression as a funny man with the right thing to say at the right time, but he’s also displayed a highly versatile skill-set throughout his career, as well. The Deadpool star is cunning, honest and can dance that fine line between confident and cocky.

It’s fair to wonder if he’d be a little too loose to really nail this character (we want witty more than funny), but one look at his turn as struggling poker player Curtis in Mississippi Grind (2015) might convince you otherwise.

Ryan Gosling

There are probably a slew of actors that could fill in for the late Paul Newman in The Hustler reboot, but there might not be a better, more complete candidate than Ryan Gosling. Gosling is the total package in the vain of Fast Eddie, as we’ve seen his sharp wit dished out effortlessly throughout his career, but unlike popular funny man Ryan Reynolds, he comes off as a bit more mature and truly confident in his stances.

In addition, Gosling is approachable, yet busting with confidence. He has a swagger that perhaps only Tom Hardy can touch when it comes to this group, while also boasting that wit and charm you’re looking for in a new version of “Fast” Eddie Felson.

There are certainly other options to consider when casting “Fast” Eddie Felson, especially if the story takes place with an older version. That could open the door to the likes of Brad Pitt and many other big names. For us, if you’re going to start from scratch with The Hustler, you might as well start off in Eddie’s prime with an iconic star that can do justice to Newman’s initial take. That could leave the door open to successive movies down the road, while the best options figure to be in that age range.

Our favorite pick here ends up being Gosling.

He’s as big of a name as anyone right now, he looks the part of Newman’s young Eddie Felson and he has a controlled wit that few can match. Do you agree that Gosling would be perfect for a Hustler remake, or is there a different actor you prefer? Or maybe you just think The Hustler should be left alone for good? Let us know in the comments below!