James Wan Talks His Vision for an Aborted MacGyver Movie

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As James Wan prepares for the release of what is likely to be the biggest box office bonanza of his career with Furious 7, CraveOnline spoke to the director about another franchise he almost brought to the screen, namely a reboot of the Richard Dean Anderson-led ’80s action series MacGyver.

“I love MacGyver. I do! What kind of sucked was, and not fully sucked, I had to give MacGyver up to pursue ‘Furious 7,’” Wan explains. “So that was what I had to give up. I [think] New Line, that I was going to do it with at the time, no longer has the rights to it. So yeah, I don’t know where it is at this point. Yeah, I love the concept behind ‘MacGyver,’ and I love the direction that we were going with it.”

New Line Cinema originally announced the MacGyver film in 2009, with a script by Jason Richman (Bangkok Dangerous) to be produced by Martha and Raffaella De Laurentiis. After the sleeper success of Insidious, Wan was brought onboard in 2012, and he describes his ideas for the project. 

“My initial concept was I wanted to do a young college MacGyver who went to Boston, one of the great universities, who’s really brilliant, right?” says Wan. “He’s so smart he could never feel like he fit into a world that is an establishment. So he’s always a bit of an outsider. He’s very crafty, he’s very smart, all kinds of science and mathematics and engineering. I wanted to put my MacGyver story around something like a ‘North by Northwest’: He gets blamed for something that he had designed, something really big that’s something everyone wanted, and now someone has weaponized it and everyone’s coming after him. He’s running for his life and he’s trying to clear his name, not quite unlike the structure of ‘Enemy of the State.’ So imagine ‘Enemy of the State’ if Will Smith had the brains of MacGyver.”

That statement in itself is kind of ironic if you consider that Will Smith himself actually did get accepted into a pre-engineering program at MIT, so maybe Smith actually DOES have the brains of MacGyver?

Whatever Wan’s plans are after he completes his next project, The Conjuring 2, the creator of “MacGyver” Lee Zlotoff is currently in the midst of a competition co-sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering titled The Next MacGyver, in which they are crowdsourcing ideas for a new series with a female engineer as the lead character.