Casting Couch

sarahconnor

Though most of the Internet is understandably focused on the news of the casting of a new Wonder Woman today, there’s also been a little bit of chatter going on focusing on yet another modern icon of feminist strength and womanly power. According to Deadline, some casting progress has been made on that Terminator reboot that Annapurna Pictures is putting together alongside director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World). To be more specific, it’s looking like they’re getting pretty close to finding their Sarah Connor. It’s probably a good thing that Taylor and company have decided to tackle the problem of finding a new Sarah Connor first, because other than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance as the hulking killer cyborg in James Cameron’s first Terminator film, the most iconic character to come out of the entire Terminator franchise is likely the young mother-to-be who is targeted for death in that first film. Sure, there’s a lot of talk about the mythic last chance for human survival, John Connor, throughout anything with the Terminator name on it, but we’ve seen him portrayed by so many actors at this point—all who have failed to develop him much past the point of being a generic hero —that he’s really more of an idea than he is a character. It’s Sarah who has largely existed as the human heart of this property, and in order for fans to take a full-on reboot of the original story seriously, the perfect actress to embody everything that she’s come […]

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To those who’ve been clamoring for a Wonder Woman film, your prayers have been answered… more or less. Today comes the announcement that the oft-rumored “female lead” of Batman vs. Superman will, in fact, be Wonder Woman, and that DC‘s biggest superhero will be played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, of the Fast & Furious franchise. It’s a momentous moment for Wonder Woman fans, superhero fans, and anyone who’s ever written a blog post entitled “Where’s My Wonder Woman Movie Already?” Here’s what Batman vs. Superman director Zack Snyder had to say on the matter: “Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.” That’s about par for the course. But like any big piece of superhero news, an answer (in this case, to the question “Where’s My Wonder Woman Movie Already?”) often brings with it a bajillion new questions. What follows are some of the more pertinent ones.

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Here’s something that, on it’s own, isn’t particularly newsworthy: Melissa Leo might star in a hypothetical movie that hasn’t been greenlit yet. Yawn. I know. But in a larger context, this wishful thinking suddenly becomes not entirely dull. The film-to-be in question is The Toll, from playwright/director Neil LaBute. Leo would play a New Jersey tollbooth operator who stumbles upon a potential terrorist attack against the entire East coast, and, as tollbooth operators are known to do, takes down the entire terrorist cell single-handedly. LaBute describes the film as “a character piece, to take a middle-aged woman and put her in a crisis you would normally find Bruce Willis. It’s finding someone who has none of the supposed attributes of an action hero and yet asked to do all of the things that those people are asked to do.” And that’s something essentially non-existent in the current film market.

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tom-cruise

Gather round, children, for the story of one international superstar attempting to guilt another into making a slapstick comedy for old time’s sake. It’s got intrigue, suspense and an open ending — everything you’d ever want in a Hollywood tale.  Back in 2010, Tom Cruise was attached to a comedy called El Presidente, directed by Jay Roach and potentially co-starring either Jack Nicholson or maybe even Robert Downey Jr. That clearly never panned out. Now in the beautiful light of 2013, Cruise and new director Doug Liman (who worked with Cruise on the upcoming Edge of Tomorrow) are attempting to make the presidential movie a reality once more — and they want Nicholson back on board. El Presidente centers on a straight-laced secret service agent (that would be Cruise) who is assigned to protect America’s least favorite former president, a gross, womanizing boozehound who only ever got the job because he got booted up from Veep when the actual president died. When bad guys threaten the politician’s life, the duo must escape together, setting up a buddy comedy/action thriller hopefully involving a lot of patriotic motifs.

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Very few of us get to hang out with talking raccoons. Or Morgan Freeman. Or Batman. Chris Pratt gets paid to do so. And next year, we’ll all get to experience the fruits of his so-awesome-you-can-hardly-qualify-it-as-labor labor, as both The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy offer up heaping helpings of that infectiously giggly Chris Pratt humor. Now you can go ahead and add “dinosaurs” to that great big list of reasons to be jealous of Pratt. According to The Wrap, the actor is in talks for the lead role in Jurassic World. Now, these are still very early talks (so much so that The Wrap put the word “very” in italics) – Pratt’s commitment to Parks and Recreation takes up a considerable amount of his schedule, so he’ll only be allowed into Jurassic World if everyone gets the timing right. If Jurassic World knows what’s good for it, though, it’ll take the extra steps necessary to ensure Pratt comes on board. Man cannot live by dinosaurs alone- the folks being chased by prehistoric beasts are just as important as the beasts doing the chasing. And while Josh Brolin (who was originally in talks for the role, but has apparently dropped out) would bring a certain goateed charm to the film, it’s hard to deny that Chris Pratt and dinosaurs are a match made in heaven. Irrfan Khan is also in talks for a role; he must still be irked that his “eaten by a giant lizard” scene was […]

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Plain ol’ everyday Christopher Walken is terrific just the way he is. The strange deadpan. The madness in his eyes. All great. But Christopher Walken set to music is even greater, and Little Rootie Tootie may provide us all with something we didn’t know we desperately needed. Walken has, according to Deadline, signed on to star as a virtuoso jazz pianist who slowly spirals into madness after losing his wife. One has to ask, of course, whether Walken would really “slowly spiral” into madness, or just “take a slight step to the left” into madness, but that’s hardly the point. Little Rootie Tootie may provide the opportunity to see a far jazzier Walken than we’ve ever experienced before (at least, not since 1981’s Pennies From Heaven, which features a Walken-centric musical number you absolutely track down on YouTube). Alongside Walken is Lenny Kravitz, who joins Little Rootie Tootie as the unstable pianist’s son. Kravitz’ character, along with his wife (who hasn’t been cast yet) are developing their own musical careers in Europe, when they’re forced to return and tend to Walken’s crumbling mental stability. Little Rootie Tootie will be directed by Dan Algrant, who with last year’s Greetings from Tim Buckley proved he can merge music and family tragedy with ease. With luck, he’ll provide the same gravitas to Walken’s delivery of the words “Little Rootie Tootie,” which I assume he’ll be uttering at some point in the film.

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Jake_Gyllenhaal

Over the course of its development, the boxing drama Southpaw has become just about as much of an underdog as the fighter who serves as its main character. What started out as a sports drama that was supposed to star Eminem and be tied closely to his experiences coming up in the rap world has now slipped through the hands of several studios and lost its original star, but still seems to be fighting to earn the right to go in front of cameras and become a real life feature film. And probably with good reason, because it was put together by a couple of talented people. From the very beginning this film was going to be helmed by Training Day and Olympus Has Fallen director Antoine Fuqua, and back when it was in development at DreamWorks it got a script that was penned by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, so clearly there has to be some material here worth salvaging. Despite the project’s pedigree, however, it’s already been dropped by DreamWorks, picked up by MGM, and then eventually put into turnaround there. But with its recent acquisition by the Weinstein Company, it’s looking like there finally might be some new work being done in the casting department that could actually lead to getting this movie made.

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assbender

We’ve recently seen him play an unhinged plantation owner in 12 Years a Slave and a morally compromised lawyer in The Counselor, and now it’s looking like Michael Fassbender is going to make his next role that of a reluctant gangster in a movie called Trespass Against Us that’s coming from screenwriter Alastair Siddons and first time dramatic feature director Adam Smith. A report from Variety says that Fassbender is currently in negotiations to play one of the lead roles of the film, that of a character named Chad Cutler. Trespass Against Us is set to detail the lives of three generations of a family full of law breakers, with Fassbender’s character being the young black sheep who wants to turn his back on the brood’s rowdy ways in order to become more respectable. Due to the Cutler family’s lives being so out there, Siddons’ script is said to be “infused with action, crime and a strong sense of humor,” but it’s nice to hear that Fassbender would be joining as a more conflicted character. He’s too much of an actor’s actor to be stuck playing a one note devilish rogue. Why not give him the chance to add some pathos to his sly grin?

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hirsch

When it got reported last week that there was new movement on a potential John Belushi biopic that was going to be put together by writer/director Steve Conrad, everyone’s initial reaction was to brainstorm what working actor would be the best choice to hire to play Belushi. The reports were that Conrad had met with Emile Hirsch and Adam Devine, and that there may have been some interest in Joaquin Phoenix. These were interesting choices that pointed to the fact that Conrad was more interested in hiring an actor who could convey the dramatics of Belushi’s private moments rather than one who could recreate the unique power and physicality of his comic performances, and they gave us a hint as to what to expect in regards to what this Belushi biopic will be all about. The new development in the story is Borys Kit’s report that Emile Hirsch has beat out the competition and has been hired for the Belushi role. On the surface, this seems like a completely fine choice that’s pretty hard to complain about. Hirsch is one of the most talented young actors in the business, he’s shown a good deal of versatility to date, and he’s likely a better choice than going with whatever chubby comedian is currently the most en vogue (Maybe Galifianakis? Could he stop winking long enough to play a role like this?) like most productions would. But once you actually picture him in the part, it starts to become clear that it’s […]

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Seeing Septuple

The threat of overpopulation (and the strange-yet-potentially-necessary child-limiting laws that follow) are already a part of today’s terrifyingly modern world. So it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a future time where the entire Earth is regulated with a strict “one baby per set of babymakers” policy. That’s the idea behind What Happened to Monday, a new science fiction film that’s just been reported (by Deadline Hollywood) to have cast Noomi Rapace in its lead role. Or, to put it more precisely, its seven lead roles. Rapace will be playing a set of septuplets who have to keep themselves concealed from society, as their very existence is a great big no-no in the film’s future world. Director Tommy Wirkola states that he originally intended Monday‘s multiple protagonists to be male, but when considering to the complexities of playing so many separate roles, “Noomi was the ideal actor – male or female – to bring them to life,” which is something fairly refreshing to hear these days.

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gattaca_1

Director Andrew Niccol’s 1997 science fiction film about a future where humanity’s genetic makeup is firmly under societal control, Gattaca, still has quite a few fans. To the point where whenever you’re talking about science fiction movies someone will inevitably say to you, “Hey, have you seen Gattaca? You should see Gattaca.” The problem for Niccol is that nobody has liked anything else he’s done since nearly as much, especially recently, as he’s been churning out intriguing-looking but ultimately completely shitty sci-fi schlock like In Time and The Host. Perhaps all it would take for Niccol to step up his game and make another fan favorite film would be a re-teaming with his Gattaca star Ethan Hawke though. After all, once a filmmaker has shown that he’s capable of making one good movie, you know that there’s always a chance he could do it again. Or, at least, these are the things that we should currently be hoping, because Deadline is reporting that Niccol and Hawke are getting ready to team up and make another movie together, and after Hawke just dumped The Purge and Getaway on our heads, he’s a guy who could use a little redemption as well.

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Jamie Dornan

It’s time to be honest about Fifty Shades of Grey. A flash in the pan elevated to feature status, it was always destined for jeers from non-fans (especially since people can write the source material off as terrible slash fiction so easily), and now that the production team at Universal and Focus have opted to sidestep the most vocal fan pleas on the casting front not once, but twice, there’s a real chance that even the people who care about it don’t care about it.

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ronan

It was back in spring of 2012 when we first heard about a film adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s 2010 novel about an Irish immigrant, “Brooklyn.” Back then the story was that it was being put together by the same producing team that made An Education, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara was attached to play the lead, and the search was on for a director. Well, from the looks of the comments made my director John Crowley (Intermission, Boy A) in an interview he recently did with Bleeding Cool [via Dark Horizons], it appears that the suits have finally found the perfect director to bring this story to life, but in the process of making their search for a director, they seem to have lost their star.

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At this point, it feels a little foolish to doubt Tom Hardy‘s transformative properties. Pick any two films from his filmography and you’ll find yourself faced with two drastically different Hardys. He may be rail-thin or bulging with muscle. Soft-spoken or screamingly incoherent. Like snowflakes, no two Tom Hardy performances are ever quite the same. So when the news comes in, as it has (via Deadline Hollywood), that Hardy has officially signed on to play Elton John in the biopic Rocket Man, all we can really do is shrug our shoulders and say “yeah, that sounds about right.” Before too long, Hardy will have made himself over in the image of the famous musician, sporting massive sunglasses and sequin-covered clothing, and will probably learn a thing or two about playing the piano. Although he may not be doing too much singing – according to the official press release, the real Elton John will be re-recording his own songs for use in the film.

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Léa-Seydoux

Jason Clarke, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and Olivia Colman have all joined forces for Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos‘ first English language film, The Lobster. The futuristic romance is a bit out there, but nothing too strange from the man who brought us 2009’s Dogtooth. In Lanthimos’s dystopian future, being single is illegal and all those caught breaking the law are arrested and transferred to The Hotel. A far cry from The Four Seasons, Deadline Hollywood reports that the hotel guests are forced to find a mate within 45 days; should they fail, they get transformed into an animal and released into the woods. Problem solved! Don’t worry; it’s any animal of their choosing – it’s not like they’re cruel or something. Of course, one of the men taken to the Hotel escapes to the woods and falls in love (with a human? with one of the humans turned animal?), though it’s against all the rules of their society. There’s no word yet on who is playing what role, though it really seems like these four shouldn’t have any problem finding a mate – right? riiiiight? It’s also hard to judge from the simple synopsis what to make of the film’s tone. Billed as an unconventional love story, it has the trappings to either go the deeply sinister route (think about it, a lot of people probably don’t survive in those woods for very long), or darkly comedic (turning people into animals because they’re not married is kind of funny).

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It must be tough, living life in Hollywood as an Australian actor or actress. There will always be that great Pacific gap between work and family, between new life and old, between lush palm trees and an endless parade of lethally venomous snakes and spiders. Strangerland is an opportunity for a few Australians to head back home – specifically, Nicole Kidman, Guy Pearce, and Hugo Weaving, who’ve all been cast in the upcoming film (according to a scoop at Variety). Strangerland, which is billed as a “mystery drama,” is about a couple who loses their children in the harsh and unforgiving terrain of the Australian Outback. If one were to make a few educated guesses about the cast, one might find it likely that Kidman and Pearce will play the worried parents, while Weaving will play some kind of raving lunatic holding the kids at bay. Or perhaps he’ll be a friendly law enforcement officer. Or the film will go the Cloud Atlas route and have Weaving play a menacing Nurse Ratched-type for some reason.

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larson

Though she’s still a spectacularly young lady, Brie Larson has been a presence in the acting world for quite a while now. If you look back at her filmography, her earliest work came in the late 90s, when she must have still been knee-high to a grasshopper. Still, it’s only been in recent years—let’s say since her reoccurring role on TV’s United States of Tara ended—that her career has started to show signs of giving off sparks that are bound to start a fire. Since 2011 Larson has shown potential in head-turning but small roles in things like Rampart, The Spectacular Now, and most recently Don Jon, she proved herself to be likable on a mainstream level by killing it as the main romantic interest in 21 Jump Street, and she proved herself to have the dramatic chops necessary to anchor a film as its star with the small scale drama Short Term 12. Brie Larson isn’t yet a name that many people know, but she’s starting to become a “that girl” that people recognize, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before she gets that one important role that takes her to the next level and establishes her as one of the hot new faces of young Hollywood. It’s said that cream always rises to the top, after all.

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amanda-seyfried

Are you able to spot any similarities between Amanda Seyfried’s smooth, porcelain doll features and the worn and weathered face of longtime Hollywood tough guy Russell Crowe? Director Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds) seems to be able to, because Variety is reporting that he’s just cast her as Crowe’s adult daughter in his next film, appropriately titled Fathers and Daughters. Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that they both have piercing blue eyes. Or maybe it’s just because they’re both famous actors. Fathers and Daughters comes from a Black List script that was penned by Brad Desch, and it tells two New York-set stories that take place 25 years apart. The first features Crowe as a famous novelist and widower who is struggling with mental illness and the task of trying to raise his five-year-old daughter on his own. The second story features Seyfried playing a 30-year-old lady trying to make her way in present day Manhattan, all while carrying around the crippling neuroses that come from being raised by a writer father who had mental issues. Or, for the sake of eliminating redundancy, let’s just call him a writer father. 

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Nick Robinson

Like a herd of startled brachiosaurus, casting announcements for Jurassic World continue to stampede in, and the latest actor to hitch a ride to this dinosaur train is Nick Robinson. The star of this year’s The Kings of Summer and the ABC Family sitcom Melissa and Joey, Robinson will be playing the older brother of yesterday’s addition, Ty Simpkins. This newest piece of news (which we’ve got thanks to Variety) seems to confirm that the central characters of Jurassic World might be one big happy dinosaur-bitten family. Throw Bryce Dallas Howard into the mix as a potential mom and the rumored Jake Johnson as a potential dad and things really start to take shape. Though we don’t know anything for certain about the plot of Jurassic World, the (I’m assuming) family dynamic seems to tie in with the biggest story rumor so far – that the film will see a Jurassic World that’s up and running and very successful, and it’s during a run-of-the-mill day at the park that the dinosaurs decide to start snacking on tourists. We’ve still got a ways to go before Jurassic World hits theaters (the film is set for a June 12, 2015 release date), but at least we can be satisfied knowing that the film is coming together, being cast and will most definitely not be sinking back into the development hell from whence it came.

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The world needs more dinosaur movies. But in order to have more dinosaur movies, we need actors to be chased around and occasionally eaten by dinosaurs. So let us all give heartfelt thanks to Ty Simpkins, the young thespian who has graciously (according to Deadline) volunteered to put himself in dinosaur-shaped harm’s way in Jurassic World. Of course, the dinosaurs aren’t real. And it’s not particularly likely that a Jurassic World will end with its lead child actor mauled to pieces by prehistoric beasts. Also, starring in Jurassic World is likely to give Simpkins’ career a generous boost, so it’s not really so selfless a gesture to begin with. And for an actor who’s only twelve years old, Simpkins already has a terrifyingly great filmography going. Starting off with War of the Worlds and Revolutionary Road, audiences might know him better as either the kid from the Insidious movies or the kid who snarkily back-and-forthed with Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. The latter definitely ups my anticipation of Jurassic World – Simpkins had real chemistry with Robert Downey Jr., and one can assume he’ll have the same chemistry with the 40-foot reptiles trying to consume him for sustenance. Plus, this news seems to imply that Jurassic World will continue the trend of a vague family unit at the heart of a Jurassic Park film. For all we know, the not-confirmed-but-still-likely-to-star Bryce Dallas Howard might be a part of that same family unit.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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