The casting news for Zal Batmanglij’s next film with co-writer and leading lady, Brit Marling, continues to be my latest obsession. We know that the pair’s film The East will focus on an eco-terrorism group that is infiltrated by a hired agent, and that plotline, paired with Batmanglij and Marling’s apparent interest in fringe groups and their draw (look no further than their Sundance hit Sound of My Voice for proof of this), is enough to get me outrageously excited for the indie thriller. But as the film rounds out its casting, my excitement level is verging on simply unmanageable.

Marling is already in to star as the undercover agent, dispatched by a private security firm that works to protect large corporations from eco-terrorist groups like the titular the East. Marling will get more involved than she anticipated, however, as her character will end up falling for the leader of the group, to be played by Alexander Skarsgard. Ellen Page is also on tap to play a member of The East, one who also has a romantic past with Skarsgard. The production has now added Patricia Clarkson in the role of Marling’s corporate boss, along with Brit Toby Kebbell, who is in negotiations for a role as “a doctor who was treated with a tainted drug that caused him to have Parkinson’s-like symptoms.”

Clarkson elevates just about every production she appears in, so her casting in The East will add some gravitas to the film, and she’ll likely turn what could be a smaller role into something memorable. What kind of lady is Marling’s boss? I’m thinking, probably not so nice, and Clarkson can play fake-nice with an edge like nobody’s business (she can also play just straight-up nice, so point to Clarkson on this one).

Kebbell’s character description is a bit open-ended, but it makes me wonder how much The East will focus on drug companies (if at all). If Kebbell’s character’s essential trait is that he’s been the victim of a tainted drug, it certainly stands to reason that he may be one of the members of the East, one with a particular bone to pick with a big corporation…like a drug company that hurts the environment and people.

The East remains my most anticipated indie film of 2012. [The Playlist, THR]


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