What? Taylor Lautner said “no” to the role of David, in Director Scott Derrickson’s upcoming film adaptation of David vs. Goliath? What was Taylor thinking? Oh -, according to producer Wyck Godfrey, he thought, “I’m going to stay contemporary, instead of going back to Biblical times”:
WYCK GODFREY: … we’re doing a big Biblical epic film called Goliath, which is a big action retelling of David and Goliath, that Dwayne Johnson is hopefully going to be playing Goliath in. That will be a blast!
Wasn’t Taylor Lautner going to play David in that?
GODFREY: Taylor was going to star in it. I was this close, but ultimately I think he felt like, “Maybe I wanna do something else.” I don’t know exactly why he’s not doing it. But, my imagining is that he thought, “I’m going to stay contemporary, instead of going back to Biblical times.”
Since it’s a story that people are familiar with, what are you going to be doing with the David and Goliath story?
GODFREY: It’s interesting. You say that, but people don’t really think about who Goliath was, at all, where he came from, and why he was driven to do what he did and fight for the Philistines. The other side of it is that everyone thinks of King David, but nobody knows David when he was a lover of wine, women and song. As an 18-year-old, he was a little bit discontented, as many 18-year-olds, about the way the world is. He’s stuck being a shepherd for someone else’s sheep, and doesn’t know of the prophecy yet. There’s all of that stuff that humanizes them. We did a film called Nativity that we really love because we just tried to treat Mary and Joseph as real people. It was about, “What would a 15-year-old girl and an 18-year-old guy be going through, if this happened?” It’s the same thing with David & Goliath. The writers have written it as a relentless pursuit of Goliath. It’s almost like Terminator going after Sarah Connor. Literally, this guy will not stop until he kills him because they want to show that their God is greater than the Jewish God. I can’t remember, in movie history, anybody really doing the David and Goliath story justice.
What is it about Dwayne Johnson that makes him your Goliath?
GODFREY: For me, honestly, his physicality is unmatched. Our Goliath is going to be 7 ½ feet tall, so it’s nice to find an actor who’s almost there. He’s like 6 foot 5 and ripped. If you saw Fast Five, when you put him beside Vin Diesel, Vin looks like a midget. It’s incredible, how physically strong he is. What Dwayne is excited about is playing a dark character. He’s never really done the villain. Scott Derrickson, who’s directing it, has a whole design that he’s going to do with the scars and tattoos for someone who has battled his whole life, that will hopefully make it seem really terrifying. The hard part is making sure that he can be menacing.
– Christina Radish, “Producer Wyck Godfrey Talks GOLIATH, ABC’s REVENGE, Nicholas Sparks Adaptation SAFE HAVEN; Reveals Taylor Lautner Passed on GOLIATH”, Collider.com, 4 November 2011
This interview also provides the answer to our query over whether the film would follow the Septuagint and make Goliath 6 3/4 feet tall, or the Masoretic text and make Goliath 9 3/4 feet tall. They went with the more “human” 7 1/2 feet tall – just a foot taller than Dwayne Johnson. Given the increase in average height for the ancient Philistine (just over 5-foot tall) to the average contemporary Anglo-American (just under 6-foot tall), this seems like an updating of the LXX height for contemporary circumstances. It also fits with the writers’ attempt to “humanize” Goliath. He’s tall enough to be a freakishly tall human being, but he’s certainly not the 10-foot superhuman of the Masoretic text.