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Salt Sequel - Will It Ever Happen?

When it comes to dynamic action films, Angelina Jolie is a reigning queen. With films like 2001's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" already under her belt, it came as little surprise when she took up the role of a CIA agent in the 2010 flick "Salt." The film follows Evelyn Salt — accused of planning to assassinate the Russian president, she's quickly pursued by both U.S. and Russian forces as more details of her hidden past are revealed. The film was a success at the box office, grossing around $300 million off a $110 million budget. Given the film's success and it's bankable star, it seemed likely that a sequel would make its way to the big screen.

However, 13 years later, it feels as though "Salt 2" may have been long forgotten. With its key actors seeking their onscreen fulfillment elsewhere, the path to finding the right story to tell has been an overly complicated one. The first film needed to be a success (per Forbes) — particularly given how well thought of Jolie was for her previous action roles — but a sequel wouldn't necessarily have the same urgency. With plenty of will-they-won't-they happening over the last few years, here's everything we know about whether a "Salt" sequel will ever happen.

Why isn't Salt 2 happening yet?

For this undercover Russian spy, the journey to continuing her story on screen hasn't been a straightforward one. Back in 2011, reports of a "Salt" sequel first surfaced, with leading lady Angelina Jolie seemingly happy to be attached to the upcoming project. No potential details of the sequel were confirmed, but these reports backed up the feeling that "Salt 2" seemed inevitable after the first film's box office success. Talk of the "Salt" story being revived in film format eventually died down but resurfaced four years later with rumors of a potential TV series.

The idea of a "Salt" TV series was only ever teased as a potential idea, with nothing concrete being locked in. While "Salt" had performed well at the box office, the film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, rendering the chances of a sequel less likely. On top of that, the crew attached to a potential "Salt 2" was subject to frequent change, with initial writer Kurt Wimmer stepping aside in 2012.

What Angelina Jolie has said about Salt 2

Without Angelina Jolie, there is no "Salt" — and she might be a huge reason why the project never properly took off. After reports of a "Salt" sequel were confirmed in 2011, Jolie's name was frequently mentioned in the few and far-between updates regarding the project. However, in 2012, Jolie officially distanced herself from the film, with reports speculating that her reluctance was due to being unimpressed with the team's proposed script. With writer Kurt Wimmer still attached to pen "Salt 2" at that point, it was assumed that the script would be completely reapproached before Jolie would receive it again. Even though Wimmer was replaced with Becky Johnston — writer of "The Prince of Tides" and "House of Gucci" — no further reports have surfaced about a sequel. 

In the meantime, Jolie busied herself with the sequels that she was interested in, including "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" in 2019 and "Kung Fu Panda 3" in 2016. Though it's clear that Jolie doesn't shy away from the right kind of sequel, it could be argued that roles such as Evelyn Salt are no longer a priority for her. With the exception of Marvel's "Eternals," many of Jolie's recent roles have taken on more dramatic undertones as opposed to action-heavy blockbusters. Jolie is expected to appear in a biopic on famed soprano Maria Callas, which feels a world away from her days as the go-to action star.

What director Phillip Noyce has said about Salt 2

Whereas Angelina Jolie's involvement with "Salt 2" has been quite vague, the director of the original film Phillip Noyce made his feelings very clear early on. Shortly after the release of "Salt" in 2010, it was reported that Noyce had firmly ruled out being involved in future Evelyn Salt stories. In an interview with Moviehole [via IndieWire] he stated: "If there ever is a sequel, better it's directed by someone with a completely fresh take on what I believe could be a totally entertaining and complex series of stories."

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Noyce spoke about the struggles of making blockbuster films for big studios, saying, "Working within the studio system can grind you down." So it wasn't too much of a surprise to see him shift away from a story he felt like he had completed. Instead, Noyce went on to work on other notable thriller and action films, including "The Desperate Hour" with Naomi Watts and "Above Suspicion" starring Emilia Clarke. He's now shifting back into his role as a producer, with his upcoming projects including "Cowboy Bob" and "Blood Relative."

What could be explored in Salt 2?

Like many films that wish to extend themselves to a second run, "Salt" left its ending pretty open. After Evelyn Salt is arrested, Nikolai Tarkovsky (Liev Schreiber) identifies that he is a member of the CIA. While being held in chains, Salt is able to escape and grab a pair of scissors, becoming embroiled in a fight with Tarkovsky before killing him. Explaining her earlier actions to Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) back in the helicopter, Salt jumps from the craft into the Potomac River. It's an elusive note to end on, meaning Salt's story could be taken just about anywhere.

If one thing is certain, Salt made it clear in the original film that she intended to hunt down the remaining Russian agents. A potential "Salt" sequel could see this idea being extended, with perhaps the risk of turning into a carbon copy of the first installment. However, a sequel could also take us back in time to explore Salt's childhood and training in further detail — including her turbulent relationship with Tarkovsky. Peabody potentially also has some explaining to do, after allowing Salt to jump out of the helicopter without any repercussions.

Who would star in Salt 2?

With Angelina Jolie as the star of the show, she would most likely need to return for a "Salt 2" project to gain any traction. It's pretty clear that in the project's previous state, a return to the role isn't something that's on the cards — but with the right adjustments, it could be possible. The script may have been reworked to a pleasing point, but it's Jolie's time in the producer's chair that could now change things. There's nothing to suggest that if she didn't have more creative control over the project, she wouldn't be happy to reassume the role.

Even without Jolie in the picture, there are a few familiar faces from "Salt" that could be likely to return. Chiwetel Ejiofor's character of Daniel Peabody is now the prime suspect for letting Salt make her escape, with his true political allegiance still somewhat unexplored. Salt also has a husband called Mike (August Diehl), and a sequel could explore her relationship with her husband prior to the first film's events — particularly given the fact that she was trained to assume a dead person's identity.

Salt was originally written for Tom Cruise

If the creative team behind "Salt 2" wanted to take the project in a completely different direction, they could possibly take the idea back to its roots. Before Angelina Jolie was ever attached to the film, the role of Salt had originally been written for action superstar Tom Cruise. According to an interview [via NBC Conneticut], Phillip Noyce stated that Cruise went in a different direction due to conflicting project schedules. "Tom was flirting with the part, and we just couldn't pin him down," he said. "Eventually he did 'Knight and Day' instead." From there, Edwin Salt became Evelyn Salt and Jolie was cast.

Given the recent success of the sequel "Top Gun: Maverick" and impending releases such as "Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One," there might not be a better time to go back to the drawing board. There's no denying that Cruise is considered to be one of the best action actors of all time, and proving that he can deliver on a sequel after many years is something that could ensure box office success for "Salt 2." How many juicy action roles can one man have? The answer, in his case, might not ever have a limit.

Will the completed script ever be seen?

As more years pass, the more it becomes increasingly unlikely that the finished script for "Salt 2" will ever be seen. Besides the fact that few people were happy with the original draft, excitement for the project as a whole has actively waned. This won't have been helped by Jolie's publicly damning feedback in 2012 — two years prior to the reports that the script was completely finished. Since that time, no details of what the "Salt 2" script might entail have ever been widely shared. Given how much the crew seemed to be initially pleased with the project, it's a shame — but perhaps it's a shame that makes sense.

Until "Salt 2" has a confirmed crew, a solid script, and enthusiastic interest from the acting talent that it needs, the project is a definite no-go. As for the original script, it's likely to remain as industry folklore, leaving both "Salt" fans and the viewing public guessing where the story might have headed next.