Racer X Ponders Becoming Billy Smoke

Last seen on the big screen as the live-action Racer X in Warner Bros.’s adaptation of Speed Racer, actor Matthew Fox (Lost) is in talks to play the lead role in a WB action flick based on an upcoming comic book. The Hollywood Reporter brings word that the studio has picked up rights to Billy Smoke from Oni Press. The publisher’s film unit, Closed on Mondays Ent., will have Eric Gitter producing the pic with Basil Iwanyk’s Warner-based Thunder Road. Oni’s Peter Schwerin will serve as exec producer, and Matt Reilly will oversee production for Warner Bros.

Written by B. Clay Moore and illustrated by Eric Kim, Billy Smoke is the story of an elite hit-man who seeks redemption by ridding the world of assassins. The comic is scheduled to hit retail sometime in 2009. Moore also sold his Leading Man to Universal and has his Hawaiian Dick being developed as a feature film by New Line Cinema. Oni Press is making its first foray into feature films with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which begins principal photography in Toronto this fall. Other media activities for the comic company include a deal to develop multi-platform properties with online distributor 60Frames.

Fox has yet to prove that he is one of those actors who can successfully make the leap from television to film. He got his big break on the hit FOX series Party of Five but is now best known as Dr. Jack Shephard on ABC’s popular supernatural action show, Lost. To date, the films he has appeared in have had minor impact on the box office. The 2006 sports drama We are Marshall came and went, and Sony /Columbia political thriller Vantage Point was only a moderate success despite an all-star cast. Speed Racer turned out to be one of this summer’s biggest disappointments, but served as Fox’s trial run as a big-screen action hero. George Clooney also had a rough time transitioning from TV to movies, but is now one of the top box office draws as both an actor and a director.