Dax Shepard and Michael Peña have been working for years to bring ’70s cop series CHiPS to the big screen, and during a press interview for Ant-Man, Peña confirmed that the project was greenlit by Warner Bros. two or three weeks back, which means he’s already working out and learning to ride in order to prep for the role of California Highway Patrol motorcycle cop Frank “Ponch” Poncherello.
The actor said:
I had to start learning how to ride a motorcycle, rehearsing, and then working out. I’ve been throwing up like every day after workouts. I like food, you know? And I also like reading, being on my iPad, no walks in the park; just chilling with my son. We just lounge and this [gestures to stomach] gets bigger.
According to Peña, Shepard originally pitched CHiPS to WB with the idea being that he’d write and/or direct, but execs were so taken with the pitch that they suggested Shepard also sign on for the lead role of CHP officer Don Baker.
Speaking about the project at further length, the actor revealed that the remake is set in the modern day and features a character named Rerun. Additionally, Vincent D’Onofrio is still signed on for the role of the lead villain, and Kristen Bell (Shepard’s off-screen wife and frequent on-screen collaborator) is also wanted for a part.
Peña confirmed that the project is going for an R-rating and will be in the vein of a classic action movie:
It’s more like a Lethal Weapon where there’s a lot of action and what we wanted to do is if there’s any comedy that we do, it’s not like one-liners here and there, like we’re the guys always being stand-up comedians. It’s almost like you lose a little bit of the plotline whenever you’re off doing your own comedy thing, so we’re focusing more on the plot, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
The project will shoot later this year with production wrapping by December. Peña sounds gung-ho about the prospect of bringing CHiPS to the big screen, and the idea of seeing the series re-envisioned as an R-rated actioner with some comedy elements is definitely appealing. After all, Peña excels at playing law enforcement officers and has already done so multiple times, on The Shield and in films like World Trade Center and End of Watch. With him involved, and a stellar team working on it, expectations are high.