That much talked about sequel to The Departed might not be on the way just yet, but we've got the next best thing.
Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg, who costarred as rival cops in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated mobster drama, are teaming up again on the big screen, this time playing brothers in a boxing drama for Paramount Pictures.
According to trade reports, The Fighter will be based on the true story of professional puglist "Irish" Micky Ward, who managed to escape a life of drugs and crime in the rough and tumble streets of Lowell, Massachusetts, to become a light welterweight title holder with the aid of brother and trainer Dicky.
Ward's epic battles with Canadian rival Arturo Gatti in the early 2000s are credited with reviving the sport, with their 2002 match, which went 10 bruising rounds before Ward won by majority decision, is widely hailed as the fight of the century. Ward hung up the gloves after losing their 2003 rematch.
Wahlberg would play Micky to Damon's Dicky. As they did in The Departed, the actors will showcase their native Boston-area accents.
Per the Hollywood Reporter, the actors agreed to come aboard pending Oscar-nominated screenwriter Paul Attanasio's retooling of the script. If the revisions, due by the end of the month, are to their liking, Wahlberg and Damon could be before the cameras this summer.
"I've been dying to do a boxing movie my whole career," Whalberg, who's up for Best Supporting Actor for The Departed, told the Reporter. "I've been close to doing two, and they kinda fell apart, but it's something I'm very excited about."
Speaking of dying for a movie, despite the high body count of A-listers in The Departed, Warner Bros. is reportedly trying to get a sequel on the fast track.
The Los Angeles Times claims that film's Oscar-nominated screenwriter, William Monahan, has begun developing a follow-up featuring the few key characters that survived the mass bloodletting, including Walhberg. There is precedent for the idea, since The Departed is based on the Hong Kong thriller, Infernal Affairs, which spawned two sequels.
However, the Times reports that Monahan has already ruled out a prequel that would have brought back Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson.
For his part, Wahlberg told Empire Online he'd be up for another go-round as the wisecracking Dignam, especially if it means trading one-liners with one of Scorsese's go-to collaborators, Robert De Niro.
"They're talking about bringing in De Niro to play a senator or a congressman," said Wahlberg. "You know, the corruption obviously going deeper and higher up the ranks—reaching up the political chain. So it'll be fun. And if it's a success, they're going to do a prequel and bring everyone back...make it a trilogy."
Damon, meanwhile, told Australia's Herald Sun newspaper that if they could figure out a way to do a sequel, he'd be up for it, but he was skeptical it could be pulled off.
"I read that, too, and I’ve been racking my brains about how we’d do it," he said. "I don’t really know what the movie would be about. Maybe it’s just starring Mark Wahlberg–he’s the only one left alive [at the end of The Departed]."
Warner Bros. and Scorsese have refused to comment. Scorsese has never made a sequel to one of his movies, however, he did helm The Color of Money with Paul Newman, which was a follow-up to 1961's The Hustler, directed by Robert Rossen.