Casting news has been through the roof over the past few days, so I'm going to do my best to present you with the most noteworthy stories without (hopefully) overwhelming you with names and titles.
This first bit comes from Heat Vision, which has the news that Stanley Tucci will play the villain Jack the Giant Killer, while director Bryan Singer continues the search for his lead. The film is said to be a more "adult" take on the Jack and the Beanstalk tale, which follows a young farmer leading an expedition to rescue a kidnapped princess. Tucci will play an advisor to the king with designs on usurping power. Bill Nighy and John Kassir will make up Fallon, the two-headed leader of the giants. Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man, About a Boy) is reportedly one of the front-runners for the titular hero.
Director John Hillcoat will reunite with his The Proposition star Guy Pearce and screenwriter Nick Cave with the gangster picture Wettest County in the World, his follow-up to The Road. The film follows three bootlegging siblings (Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke of "The Chicago Code") in Prohibition-era Virginia. Pearce's role is that of an overly violent deputy who comes down hard on the brothers. THR reports Gary Oldman is also on board as a gangster who engages the boys to deliver alcohol, while Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right) plays LaBeouf's love interest and Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life) rounds out the ridiculously stacked cast.
Deadline reports "Glee" creator and Eat, Pray, Love director Ryan Murphy is Sony's top choice to direct Willow Smith in their re-imagining of Annie. Murphy has also been courted by Fox to direct a remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a movie version of the Broadway hit Wicked. In related news, Willow Smith exclaimed to Access (via Yahoo) at Justin Bieber's Never Say Never premiere that she wants Brad Pitt to play Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks in the film. Well, you can't fault the girl for having high hopes. Albert Finney played Warbucks in John Huston's 1982 version.
Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction) will direct Andrew Garfield, Jennifer Garner and Marcia Gay Harden in an adaptation of Tawni O'Dell's bestselling novel Back Roads. Variety reports Garfield will star as a young man who is forced to care for his three younger sisters after their mother is sent to prison for killing her abusive husband. Garner will play a neighbor who becomes romantically involved with Garfield's character and Harden will play his court-appointed therapist. Lyne hasn't made a film since 2002's Unfaithful, though he was once attached to The Town before Ben Affleck took over directing duties. It will be nice to see him working again as he's always been good at making those steamy adult dramas.
Would you buy a Morgan Freeman/Annette Bening romance? I suppose Bening does like older men. The two are set to star in director Rob Reiner's The Third Act, which will start principal photography in May. Freeman will play a formerly famous western writer attempting to regain his touch in a small rural town. In doing so, he helps a young girl find her imagination and helps her mother (Bening) find love once more.
Summit is in negotiations with their Twilight Saga scribe Melissa Rosenberg to write their remake of 1986's Highlander, which you might recall as the Academy Award winner for "best movie ever made."* The original starred Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery in a story about a Scottish swordsman who learns he is part of a secret race of near-immortal beings. Justin Lin (Fast Five) is attached to direct.
Producer Avi Lerner has spilled the beans to Empire that the long-in-development Red Sonja remake is still a priority, and that Simon West (The Mechanic, Con Air) is attached to direct after he completes Medallion with Nicolas Cage. And who is the favorite to step into Brigitte Nielsen's boots and play the warrioress famous for wearing very scant battle armor? Lerner, who is an executive producer on this month's Drive Angry, says "Amber (Heard) is the new Red Sonja... but she doesn't know it yet!" He further insists they'll "definitely" shoot Red Sonja between Conan and Conan 2. We'll see. Development on a Red Sonja remake was once far enough along that teaser posters were released featuring then-attached star Rose McGowan, only come to an eventual halt.
Fox is looking to secure two of the industry's top rising male stars for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Variety reports Dominic Cooper, who starred in An Education and will play Tony Stark's dad in Captain America: The First Avenger, will play Henry, Lincoln's mentor who teaches him the ways of vamp slaying. This is the role Joaquin Phoenix was just being courted for, so he's apparently out of the equation. Deadline adds that Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) is in talks for the role of Will, Abe's best friend and hunting partner. Mackie delivers another solid turn in next month's The Adjustment Bureau and it seems clear that he's on his way towards becoming a huge star. This might be another stepping stone on his path to the top.
Though he's been in high demand, Ryan Gosling hasn't taken on a role in a tentpole-sized film since breaking out in The Notebook. That could change with a starring role in Warner Bros' Logan's Run. Deadline reports Gosling is in final negotiations for the remake of the 1976 sci-fi classic, which would reunite him with director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson). Gosling and Refn just finished work on the crime thriller Drive, in which Gosling stars as a stunt driver who moonlights as a heist wheel man.
In Logan's Run Gosling would play Logan 5, a "Sandman" who is responsible for putting down those who try to escape mandatory death once they reach a certain age in the film's dystopian world. As the title implies, he is soon forced to run from this fate. Now 30-years-old, almost immediate sentiment on Twitter was that Gosling is too old for this role considering William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson's original novel set the age cap at 21, but word is the remake has bumped it to 30. So, that pretty much settles that.
And we'll wrap things up with a Dark Knight Rises rumor, because who doesn't love those? The latest comes from Slashfilm's Germain Lussier with word that Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be up for the role of Alberto Falcone, the son of Tom Wilkinson's Carmine Falcone from Batman Begins. The thought is Alberto would return to Gotham to try to reclaim the city Batman helped take from his father. Sounds all fine and dandy, but with Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and Bane (Tom Hardy) already signed up I can't help but wonder how many more villains this thing can handle. We all remember Spider-Man 3, right?
* No, not really..