Showtime’s latest streaming series American Gigolo is reinventing the classic 1980 Paul Schrader erotic thriller for a 2020s audience, but one bit of casting manages to be as fresh as a new decade and a blast from the past at the same time.
The original film redefined male on-screen sexuality for the 1980s and made a star out of Richard Gere, who played the titular gigolo Julian Kaye in the film. The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal will take on the role of Julian this time around, and the new series also recasts Gretchen Mol as Michelle, played by Lauren Hutton in the original movie. But it’s the casting of the adversarial police detective Sunday that will surprise daytime TV talk show fans the most.
In the 1980 film, Detective Sunday was played by character actor Hector Elizondo, beloved for his roles as Barnard in Pretty Woman and bodyguard Joe in The Princess Diaries. In the reboot, the character will be played by longtime daytime talk show host and Broadway maven Rosie O’Donnell.
O’Donnell is still remembered for her stint as host of The Rosie O’Donnell Show in the late ’90s and early 2000s. After she left the show in 2002, O’Donnell appeared off and on as a panel member on The View and hosted her own Air America radio show. Although O’Donnell made regular guest appearances as an actor over the years, her acting career seemed to be almost an afterthought to her career as a commentator and influencer.
That’s changed in the last few years. The A League of Their Own star was a series regular on Showtime’s SMILF, which ran from 2017 to 2019, and she received critical acclaim for her portrayal of the lead’s mother, Tutu. It seems as if she may be angling for more kudos with American Gigolo as Detective Sunday. Even in her brief appearances in the trailer, O’Donnell presents as a world-weary hard-boiled police detective, straight out of the neo-noir genre that the original American Gigolo helped create.
American Gigolo will premiere on Showtime on September 11.