Here’s a look at the rumors that have been buzzing in Hollywood for the past week.
1. Female leads auditioning for Star Wars standalone
This week some exciting news came from The Hollywood Reporter regarding the first Star Wars standalone movie to be directed by Godzilla director Gareth Edwards. The director is reportedly testing for a female lead, which may give some clue as to what the movie could be about. All that Disney has said so far is that it will be a standalone picture with Edwards set to direct, though rumors have suggested it will focus on the life of a young Han Solo. That still could be the case, although some have floated the idea that the film will be about Princess Leia instead. The actresses THR says Edwards is looking at are Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’s Rooney Mara, and The Theory of Everything’s Felicity Jones. Maslany and Mara are the reported frontrunners, as Jones may have a conflict due to the upcoming Da Vinci Code sequel directed by Ron Howard.
Maslany has received raves for her performance as multiple clones on the Canadian BBC sci-fi series Orphan Black. Mara has long been a David Fincher favorite, with her breakout role coming from The Social Network and receiving an Oscar nom for her take on cyber punk Lisbeth Salander in Dragon Tattoo. Jones is reportedly on the want list if her schedule can be worked out and she just received an Oscar nomination for her role as Stephen Hawking’s wife in The Theory of Everything. THR’s sources said that “a handful” of other actresses would be testing for the part as well.
2. Zac Efron’s new comedy
Zac Efron might never be desperate for a date in real life, but the actor has just signed on to the comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Variety reports. The story follows two brothers who post an ad online to find a pair of dates for a wedding and what happens when the ad ends up going viral. The movie is supposed to be like a male version of the Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy hit The Heat, and the studio is casting for the part of Efron’s brother. Last year’s hit co-starring Seth Rogen, The Neighbors, showed that Efron has comedic chops that can appeal to males, when before he’d been sort of typecast as a heartthrob who appealed more to a female audience. Jake Szymanski is set to direct Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the project and see who the studio ends up deciding has good chemistry with Efron.
3. Jennifer Lawrence teams up with James Cameron
TheWrap reported this week that Jennifer Lawrence has signed on to star in a romantic drama about deep sea diving that will be produced by James Cameron, a known authority on the subject, and directed by her Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence. The movie, The Dive, will tell the story of thrill-seeking divers, the Cuban Francisco “Pipin” Ferraras and his wife, the French Audrey Mestre. The pair frequently broke records for the deepest dives on a single breath. Mestre died at the age of 28 while trying to beat her own record, diving to the depth of 557.7 feet.
Lawrence will play Mestre and Cameron will produce not only with a longtime knowledge of deep sea diving but of the couple as well. The Titanic and Avatar director is a diving enthusiast and helped Ferraras film a documentary tribute to his late wife in which he dove to the same depth that she did. This film would be a good way for Lawrence to move forward from the soon-to-end franchises she stars in and branch outside her collaborations with director David O. Russell. TheWrap said it’s unclear if an offer has been made or if Lawrence has officially signed on to the project.
4. 24 to Continue Without Kiefer Sutherland
Executives at Fox have said on a TCA press tour that they are considering continuing the cult classic show without star Kiefer Sutherland. Deadline has reported that the network has pitched a new spinoff of the series that will still be an action-drama taking place in real time, but won’t include main character Jack Bauer. The spinoff miniseries 24: Live Another Day was so successful that it makes sense Fox wants more. The problem is that Sutherland has made it clear he has no intentions of returning to play Bauer again.
The Fox executives who spoke said that although they are unsure how involved Sutherland would be, he would be present somewhat creatively and supports the network doing more 24. They said they weren’t sure whether or not Sutherland would appear in another run of the show. “We’re not talking about continuing the show without [Sutherland]. We’re talking about whether there’s one installment that he’s not in,” said Fox Chairman and CEO Dana Walden. Fox’s presentation did try to keep things optimistic regarding the potential for Sutherland to change his mind and decide to join the show again even though in the past the actor has been vocal that he has no intentions to return.
5. Chiwetel Ejiofor to Doctor Strange
We all know that Benedict Cumberbatch has snagged the role of Doctor Strange, but that doesn’t mean casting rumors for the movie are over. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Marvel is circling Chiwetel Ejiofor for a role opposite Cumberbatch in the movie, though details about what that part would be are very thin. THR’s sources said talks are in the very early stages, but that Marvel really wants to land the 12 Years a Slave actor.
Some insiders said that Ejiofor will play a villain, while others refuted the idea. Possible roles the actor could be looking at include that of the villain Baron Mordo, who gets usurped by Strange as the next Sorcerer Supreme and thus becomes his mortal enemy. Ejiofor could also play Wong, the monk martial arts expert and servant to Strange, or the Ancient One, a mystic and mentor to Strange. Fans of the comic will likely be in high speculation mode for awhile as Marvel will remain characteristically tight-lipped on the plot details until the movie comes out on November 4, 2016.
6. Star of Lucy to Play the ultimate traitor
The upcoming remake of the Biblical epic classic Ben-Hur has continued its casting rampage across Hollywood. While Game of Thrones actor Pablo Pascal had previously been in talks for the role, TheWrap reports that Lucy star Pilou Asbæk will play Pontius Pilate in the new version of Ben-Hur. The Danish actor is best known for being featured prominently in the opening scene of last summer’s Scarlett Johansson-starring action movie Lucy, though he’s been in several Danish films as well. Last week it was reported that Gossip Girl and Skins actress Sofia Black-D’Elia would play Ben-Hur’s sister. Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, and Toby Kebbell are set to star in the remake of the Charlton Heston 1959 classic. The filmmakers are hoping this Biblical epic will be more successful than previous Biblical epics Hollywood has turned out, including Exodus: Gods and Kings and Noah, which have been flops.
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