Due to her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan and her pregnancy-imposed break from acting, Natalie Portman has been the subject of much talk in the movie world. When will she come back to work? What will her first post-Oscar role be? There have been reports of filmmakers as big as the Wachowskis actively recruiting her to come on board their projects, but still no word of an official signing. That is until now. Sorry, Hollywood directors, but Terrence Malick has beaten you to the punch. And, just to smear some dirt in your wounds, he’s done it twice.

Deadline Ottawa is reporting that Portman has signed on to be in not one, but two of Malick’s upcoming projects, both shooting in 2012, which will mark her much anticipated return to acting. The first film is the Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett-starring Knight of the Cups, which is scheduled to start shooting this summer. The second is a film called Lawless, which sees Portman teamed again with Bale and Blanchett, in addition to other notable names like Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara. This film is scheduled to shoot in the fall.

There isn’t much reliable information about what these movies will be about floating around out there, but I’m starting to find my curiosity piqued. Malick doing two films back-to-back, reusing much of the same cast for both; it all seems very unusual. What does he have up his sleeve, and why has whatever it is drawn in so many high profile actors? These are the sort of mysteries I like, because you know that whatever their answer, it’s going to be good news.

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