Hayden Christensen to Topline Paramount’s Marco Polo

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Hayden2It’s been a decade since Hayden Christensen last appeared as Anakin Skywalker, with only a handful of high-profile films (Jumper, Takers) in the intervening years, but that all looks to change as The Hollywood Reporter reveals the Star Wars star will headline Paramount’s new big screen take on Marco Polo.

Christensen, who still has a large overseas following that helped win him the role, will play the famed Venetian merchant whose chronicle of his 24-year journey into China in the 13th century was critical in introducing Chinese culture to Europe. This new take on the Polo story is being positioned as a fantasy/action reimagining of the voyage, with director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) lined up to direct.

Cohen is no stranger to China, having previously made 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and is currently back in good graces after the enormously profitable The Boy Next Door, which took in $48 million on a $4 million budget. Cohen was at one point working on another seabound fantasy with the revival of Sinbad, which was to star Keanu Reeves but bit the dust¬†after the failure of Stealth.

Although not specifically stated in the Reporter, this looks to be the same (or similar) to a Marco Polo project that was set up at Warner Bros. five years ago with Hunger Games franchise director Francis Lawrence at the helm and Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Exodus: Gods and Kings, Assassin’s Creed) writing the screenplay.¬†

“We see this as something that takes place in the Orient of our imagination amid the cultural clash of the East and the West,” said Cooper of that project in 2010.

The historical figure has also been the subject of recent hit Netflix series “Marco Polo,” starring Lorenzo Richelmy and currently renewed for a second season.

Meanwhile, Christensen will next be seen in the religious drama 90 Minutes in Heaven opposite Kate Bosworth, while Cohen will direct the indie art heist thriller Risk.

(Photo Credit: WENN)