Comic actor Steve Martin will star as a new Inspector Clouseau in a fresh “Pink Panther” movie due out next summer, the filmmakers said Friday.
Martin, who will be starring alongside Beyoncé and Oscar-winner Kevin Kline, said he was intimidated at first by the thought of following in actor Peter Sellers’ stumbling footsteps as the hapless Clouseau, but he got over it.
“They have different James Bonds,” he quipped at a news conference Friday.
Others in the cast of the MGM Pictures film that should reach movie houses by next summer include French actor Jean Reno and Tony Award-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth.
The movie will steer clear of prickly U.S.-French politics, the film’s makers said.
Shooting could start next week in Manhattan, then will move to Paris, according to producer Robert Simonds.
The original 1964 “The Pink Panther” was directed by Blake Edwards and featured Sellers, who immortalized the clumsy Clouseau character with slapstick and sight gags. It spawned several sequels and also introduced the mischievous but lovable cartoon pink panther.
Martin is co-writing the script for the upcoming “The Pink Panther” as well as playing Clouseau.
Beyoncé will play a pop singer and Clouseau’s love interest. While Martin grew up with memories of the “Pink Panther” movies, Beyonce said her familiarity was mostly with the cartoon version pink panther.
Director Shawn Levy, who steered Martin through the commercially successful comedy, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” promised the “Pink Panther” would be updated for contemporary viewers.
“Clouseau is still this bumbling, absurd character, but he now is at the mercy of today’s technology, things that weren’t around 30 or 40 years ago. There are a lot of newplay things for Clouseau to screw up,” Levy said.
The popular “Pink Panther” theme music composed by the late Henry Mancini will be preserved and also get a new interpretation, he said.
Kline will be playing Clouseau’s boss, while Reno will play Clouseau’s police assistant, taking on aspects of the sidekick role of Cato, Sellers’ Asian valet in the original, who made surprise attacks on the inspector to keep his faculties sharp.