Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe is reportedly in negotiations to play the lead role in a new 90-minute BBC drama about the creation of seminal video game franchise Grand Theft Auto. Radcliffe is set to play Sam Houser, the co-founder of Rockstar Games, dramatizing his clashes with anti-gaming activist and now-disbarred attorney Jack Thompson over what Thompson argued were unacceptable levels of violence in video games.
The one-off special, currently named Grand Theft Auto, is based on a book by David Kushner. Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto focuses on the characters of Houser and Thompson as it follows the development of the wildly successful Grand Theft Auto series, first by the Scottish DMA Design, and later by Rockstar Games, founded by Sam Houser and his brother Dan. Owen Harris will direct the special after helming episodes of British sci-fi series Black Mirror and Misfits.
The 90-minute special is based on a book about the games' development
The first Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997, but it was the release of Grand Theft Auto III — the first 3D game in the series — that propelled the games to global attention. Thompson — who had crusaded against rap and hip-hop artists such as 2 Live Crew during the 1990s — latched onto the game as a figurehead for the games industry as a whole, attempting to link it to school shootings and other acts of violence. In 2003, he sought $246 million in damages from publisher Take Two Interactive, PlayStation platform owner Sony, and Wal-Mart after a 16-year-old boy, reportedly "obsessed" with GTA III, shot a friend to death.
The case was thrown out of court, but Thompson continued his campaign against video games, targeting Rockstar Games' Bully and Manhunt, alongside titles from other publishers such as Mortal Kombat. He continued to file litigation until 2008, when he was permanently disbarred from the Flordia Bar for inappropriate conduct. The role of Thompson has yet to be cast in the BBC drama.