"Taxi" Revs Up for a September 15 Start: Plot & Filming Details

With Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon now confirmed as the leads for the remake of the French feature “Taxi” producers are looking to cast the secondary roles in time for the production’s September 15 start in Los Angeles and New York City.

The film focuses on Belle (Queen Latifah), the best taxi driver in Manhattan. A single mother and former pizza deliverer, she becomes renowned for her racing through the city streets at speeds upwards of 135 miles per hour. Brought into the NYPD fold when Washburn (Fallon), the worst driver on the force, screws up a drug bust, she teams with him in order to stop a team of bank robbers. The film is a translation of the 1998 film directed by Luc Besson, who serves as a producer here.

Among the characters still to be cast are the boyfriend of Belle, the police captain who is Washburn’s boss, a female bank robber who serves as the villain of the film, Washburn’s mother and an FBI agent who becomes smitten with the police captain. Now out to the agents of actors and actresses, FilmJerk.com can reveal the full descriptions of the characters, which are:

  • Jesse: A well-built construction worker, Jesse is Belle’s (Queen Latifah) live-in lover. Belle and he enjoy a robust and happy rapport, sexual and otherwise but the fact that Belle’s been so preoccupied with her new taxi business is wearing thin for Jesse. Jesse’s an understanding man, but when Belle stands him up on the night she’s supposed to meet his parents, he’s understandably miffed. Growing more and more suspicious and unhappy by the hour, Jesse doesn’t yet realize that Belle has become involved with a sensitive NYPD case. He just knows that Belle seems to have effectively abandoned him, and he’s getting ready to pull the plug on their relationship for good when he finally learns the real reason for her preoccupation. The role calls for an African American male between the ages of 25 and 29.
  • Captain Marta Robbins: A smart and beautiful woman, Robbins is Washburn’s superior, as well as his ex-girlfriend. When his failed attempt during a drug bust winds up on the front pages, the embarrassed Robbins reassigns him to foot patrol. Her fury knows no bounds when he screws up, as he humiliates her department in the process. She pulls Washburn off the case, and when he ignores her orders, she later fires him. Under Belle’s influence, however, Washburn gets a lot tougher and more self-confident – and Robbins is impressed by the change, particularly after Washburn saves her from a gang of Brazilian bank robbers who are holding her hostage. The producers are looking for an actress in her mid 20s to early 30s here.
  • Giselle: Described as “movie star stunning,” this beautiful and exotic Latin spitfire is the leader of a gang of gorgeous female bank robbers who are currently on the loose in Manhattan. A master of disguise and an incredible driver, both fearless and sexy, Giselle recognizes Belle as a formidable adversary – and, we suspect, just might be attracted to Belle in other ways as well. Contemptuous of the cops, Giselle eludes the authorities at every turn – but when the tenacious Washburn and Belle put a crimp in her perfect crime spree, she turns murderous. Looking for an actress between 24 and 29, the producers list the ability to speak Portuguese as a plus.
  • Washburn’s Mom: A force of nature, Washburn’s mother is an extremely comedic character and a vibrant gal who always has an effervescent (make that “drunken”) manner and a banana daiquiri often in hand. She’s delighted to meet Belle, whom she initially thinks is her son’s new girlfriend. A bit addled, Mom doesn’t quite understand the complications of Washburn’s current case, but she’s there to cheer her son on, come what may. The producers are looking for an actress in her 50s or 60s.
  • Agent Mullins: This handsome, tough and confident FBI agent commands the respect and attention of everyone in the room. Mullins is working with the NYPD on the current rash of bank robberies, and it strikes the jealous Washburn that Marta Robbins is quite smitten with Mullins, both professionally and otherwise. The script calls for this character to be 40 years old.

    Interestingly, a number of writers have taken a pass at this film’s script, odd for a screenplay based on a recent remake and looking extremely similar to the original work from our vantage point, albeit Americanized. The team of Robert Conte and Peter Wortmann worked the script first and previous revisions were done by both Jim Kouf, working alone, and then the team of Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. Current revisions to the script are being done by Tina Chism, with the most recent draft of the script dated July 15, 2003 (and still being further rewritten as of this writing). That’s 6 scriptwriters and 4 different teams/individual writers altogether here…oh my. It should be interesting to see the WGA sort this out for final writing credits later on.

    Tim Story is set to direct the film. The remake is scheduled to open on October 8, 2004.

    The Scorecard
    Producer: Luc Besson
    Director: Tim Story
    Writers:Robert Conte & Peter Wortmann (Initial Script), Based on the Luc Besson 1998 Film
    Casting Directors: Christian Kaplan and Aisha Coley
    Start Date: September 15, 2003
    Locations: Los Angeles and New York
    Production Companies: Europa Corp and Cube Vision
    Distributor: 20th Century Fox