Get ready to hear the name “Jessica Chastain” much more in the coming months (a little bird tells me that you can even expect to see a couple of reviews for a Chastain film on this very site within the next few days). The actress is set for the big leagues, thanks to being plucked from relative obscurity by Terrence Malick to star in his The Tree of Life that finally opened earlier this year, followed by roles in Take Shelter, The Debt, Texas Killing Fields, and the upcoming star-fest that is The Wettest County. Now Chastain has landed a prime leading lady position opposite Tom Cruise in Joseph Kosinski’s sci-f film that is…well, apparently without a title as of now. But you may know it as Oblivion or Horizons. Let’s call it Obli-zons and be done with it.
Tron: Legacy director Kosinski is helming the film is based on an upcoming graphic novel that he himself conceived of and wrote (with Arvid Nelson) for Radical Publishing. The script for the film has been adapted by William Monahan, with a rewrite by Karl Gajdusek and a polish by Michael Arndt.
The story centers on the character that Cruise will play, a repairman named Jak. But Jak’s life is just a smidge different than that of any other sort of repairman, because he lives in a future where an alien invasion has irradiated the Earth so severely that it is no longer inhabitable. The population of the planet now lives in the clouds, and Jak’s job entails routinely going to the surface of the dead Earth to repair drones that are tasked with keeping the planet safe from another attack. But on one such mission, Jak finds a woman on the surface, and her appearance changes everything for him. Chastain will reportedly play “Cruise’s lover and partner, who tethers him to the world above the clouds while he’s doing repairwork. She becomes none-too-happy when she discovers he has fallen for anther woman.”
Of course, in writing about the project, I’ve come to know that there at least two leading lady roles ‐ Chastain’s role as Victoria (the name reported from the graphic novel), and another lady named Julia, who is explained as being Jak’s fiancee before the invasion that destroyed Earth. And since we know that the story centers on Jak going back to Earth and meeting a crash-landed lady, that could be either a whole other role, or well, this is all just speculation, but possibly Julia herself. This is all hard to say, however, as though the script is based on Kosinski’s graphic novel “Oblivion,” and book hasn’t been released yet, so many stories on the plot seem to differ just slightly enough to lead to confusion.
A few weeks back, Kosinski and Universal were apparently testing five actresses for roles in the film, though it’s unclear who was testing for which role. Those actresses included Chastain, Olga Kurylenko, Brit Marling, Noomi Rapace, and Olivia Wilde. I suspect we’ll get another casting announcement with one of those names quite soon. [THR]