IT IS a challenge that even 007 would have to think twice about. James Bond star Pierce Brosnan is planning a big-budget historical epic aimed at bringing a 200-year-old Sir Walter Scott poem to life.
The Legend of Lochinvar, which is set in the Borders, is a Bond-style tale of a hero - Lord Lochinvar - who returns from battle to sweep a damsel off her feet and steal her from another suitor.
Brosnan, with his days of playing the secret agent behind him, is now going ahead with other projects and may start filming Lochinvar in Scotland and North Africa next summer.
Top scriptwriter Mike Finch has completed the tricky adaptation of the poem into a screenplay that will appeal to 21st-century audiences.
Brosnan’s Santa Monica-based production company, Irish DreamTime, is now working on financing.
Scott’s Lochinvar - which is named after a loch in Dumfries and Galloway - is set in the 15th century, but Finch’s screenplay fleshes the plot out with new characters and moves it back about 300 years to the Crusades.
Brosnan says the budget for the film is huge. "It is an epic, classic story. We have been out scouting locations and the text is very good. It can be a great yarn," he said.
The Irish-born actor will play a Knight Templar called MacGregor, and may also direct the film. Samantha Morton has been linked with the role of Lord Lochinvar’s sweetheart, Lady Ellen.
Brosnan, 51, confirmed earlier this month that his days of playing Bond after four movies were now over. "I will be moving into production instead. The new films will be just as action-packed and very exciting so watch this space," said the actor, who is now a US citizen.
Irish DreamTime’s previous films include the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair and the recent screwball romantic comedy Laws of Attraction, but Lochinvar represents its biggest challenge by far.
Despite Scott’s reputation as one of Scotland’s greatest literary figures, his works have not transferred well to the big screen. There have been films of his books, particularly Ivanhoe and The Bride of Lammermoor, and at least five previous films based on the story of Lochinvar.
But the Lochinvar films were all made in the silent era and Scott’s wordy stories of chivalry have since fallen out of favour with readers and film-makers.
But Brosnan’s company believes the recent rash of swordplay movies, such as Gladiator, Troy and Alexander the Great, may work in Lochinvar’s favour.