Will Smith

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting news column that’s returning after a small vacation. There’s lots of stuff to catch up with, involving many of the most exciting actors working today, so let’s get started. There’s just no time to waste.

There’s some good news and some bad news regarding the casting of that movie about con artists Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have been putting together, called Focus. The good news is that they may have finally found a leading man to replace Ben Affleck, who dropped out of the film to focus on other things. Variety is reporting that, of all people, mega-celebrity Will Smith is currently in negotiations to star in the film. The bad news is, given his advanced age, Smith’s potential casting has led to Kristen Stewart seeing the writing on the wall and dropping out as the film’s female lead. When Will Smith becomes involved in a project, it tends to become the Will Smith Show, so we’ll have to wait and see what he has in mind as far as leading ladies goes.

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Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore

David Cronenberg’s next film seems to have the core of its cast in place. The project is a ghost story set in the world of celebrity called Maps to the Stars, and according to a press release from Entertainment One Films—who have come on board to handle distribution—it’s set to star such notable names as Julianne Moore, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson and Sarah Gadon.

Pattinson and Gadon just worked with Cronenberg on Cosmopolis, and seem to be becoming regular collaborators for the director, but Moore and Cusack are kind of wildcards. Given Moore’s recent penchant for acting in mostly good movies and Cusack’s recent penchant for acting in mostly terrible movies, it’s hard to make any predictions concerning the quality of the film. We’ve got an old fashioned standoff. Who will blink first?

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Clifton Collins

Clifton Collins

Casting on Wally Pfister’s Transcendence seems to be wrapping up as we get closer to its scheduled start date. Last week we learned that Morgan Freeman had joined the Johnny Depp-led sci-fi picture, a couple days ago the Latino Review broke the news that Cillian Murphy had taken one of the other lead roles, and now a couple of ancillary roles have been filled as well. Variety is reporting that Parker and Pacific Rim actor Clifton Collins has joined the cast, and Black Film is reporting that Battle: Los Angeles and Warm Bodies actor Cory Hardrict is also on board. Less you start thinking that Transcendence is set up to be one big dude party, remember that Rebecca Hall and Kate Mara were some of the first names that Pfister signed up months ago. They should help make the future look a little less bleak. This cast is well-rounded, yo.

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Dylan O'Brien

Dylan O’Brien

Seeing as The Maze Runner is about a group of kids waking up without memories in a gigantic maze and finding themselves suddenly engaged in a battle for survival, director Wes Ball has pretty steadily been adding young names to his rapidly growing ensemble cast.

Until today we still didn’t know who was going to be playing the film’s lead role though. Well, according to Deadline, the lead role is that of a character named Thomas, and Ball has just recruited Dylan O’Brien, the star of MTV’s Teen Wolf series, to fill it. This is a kid who seems to be going places, and it looks like he’s using genre projects as his vehicle to get there.

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Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld

Another young actor who many have predicted as going places is Hailee Steinfeld. Ever since the Coens cast her as the lead of their True Grit remake and she more than met the challenge of anchoring that film, interested parties have been watching her career very closely. Deadline reports that her next chance to impress is going to come in the form of a film called Barely Lethal, which she’s just signed on to star in. The film casts her as a young girl who was raised in a boarding school for assassins, who must now face the challenge of reintegrating into normal life by attending a high school in a rural town. It sounds kind of like Foot Loose, only probably with more people getting killed and less dancing. Probably.

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Suraj Sharma

Suraj Sharma

Indian actor Suraj Sharma raised his global profile quite a bit by landing the lead in last year’s Life of Pi, the Ang Lee-directed literary adaptation that made a bunch of money and won a bunch of Oscars. It comes as no surprise then, that such large success is being followed up by offers of more work. The Wrap is reporting that Sharma has joined a baseball movie that Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl) is making for Disney called Million Dollar Arm.

The story is a real-life one, about a sports agent who found a couple of top-notch MLB pitchers by auditioning over 40,000 cricket players in India. Mad Men star John Hamm is already on board to play the agent, a guy named JB Bernstein, and Sharma will be portraying one of his two big finds, either Dinesh Patel or Rinku Singh. The existence of two prospects in this story, of course, means that there’s another big role that’s yet to be filled. What do you think the odds are they go the super-obvious route and just get that guy from Slumdog?

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Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston

Though he’s mostly known for playing Loki in Marvel’s Thor and Avengers movies, Tom Hiddleston is a strong enough actor that he’s not likely going to get pigeonholed as a comic book movie villain. No, chances are Hiddleston is going to be afforded plenty of opportunities to show off his range in the coming years, and according to Short List, the next of these opportunities is going to come in the form of a biopic.

They’re reporting that he’s just landed the lead of Capa, a look at the life of famed war photographer Robert Capa that’s being put together by director Paul Andrew Williams (Song for Marion). How serious is Hiddleston about making this movie work? In order to get his portrayal of the man just right, he told Short List that, “I plan to go to the places he lived, those places he visited, read books about him, study his photographs and, crucially, learn how he took them.” That sounds like a lot of work for an actor who could probably make a decent living just coasting off of his “mewling quim” catchphrase for the rest of his career.

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Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaughn

It feels like there were a few years there where Vince Vaughn took a break from plying his fast-talking trade up on the big screen, but it’s starting to look like this is going to be the year where he comes back in full force. Not only has he already filmed starring roles in the upcoming comedies The Internship and Delivery Man, but THR is reporting that he’s now in negotiations to star in a new project from Pursuit of Happyness scribe Steve Conrad called Business Trip.

Plot details are not yet known, but the film is predictably said to be about a guy who gets into some hijinx while being sent on a trip by his job. Might it be that we’re entering a new golden age of Vince Vaughn comedies, or do all of the painfully generic titles of these upcoming projects reveal an actor in need of money bringing us a slate of cliched crap? Hopefully it’s the former, but it feels in the gut like it’s the latter, doesn’t it? Hopefully Vaughn can prove us wrong.


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