Mark Wahlberg looking to replace Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Gambler”

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Paramount has been interested in remaking the hit 1974 film The Gambler and initially tabbed Leonardo DiCaprio as their man. But according to The Huffington Post, Paramount now wants Mark Wahlberg to reprise the role of Alex Freel, a New York-based English professor who’s severely addicted to gambling.

It was also originally rumored that Martin Scorsese would direct the movie. However, Rupert Wyatt has officially been given the director’s chair, an honor which Karel Reisz carried back in ’74.

The fact that Paramount is now choosing to pick the lead actor and director for The Gambler is interesting timing. After all, the upcoming gambling film Runner, Runner is set to be released in less than two weeks on September 27th.

As the trailers indicate, Runner, Runner is an over-the-top drama about offshore online poker sites and how they’re supposedly run by seedy characters. A few of the choice scenes in the sneak peak include Ben Affleck feeding a man to crocodiles, Justin Timberlake being abducted, and a wild Costa Rican party.

The Gambler, on the other hand, provided a more realistic look at Freel’s addiction. He inspires his students in the classroom through the use of Dostoevsky’s work. Freel also has a beautiful lover named Billie and a prominent family.

But underneath all of this, the professor has a reckless gambling addiction that sees him rack up a huge debt with his bookie, Hips. Freel eventually borrows $44,000 from his shocked mother to pay Hips back. However, he eventually blows his money on basketball betting again and takes his anger out on Billie. By the end, Freel’s life has spiraled out of control and he resorts to bribing his student, who’s on the university basketball team, to shave points.

It’s unclear if the new version of The Gambler will completely follow the old plot line. But like most remakes, it should follow the ’74 film fairly closely.

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