Casting Call – January 18

Latest casting news from TV and film.

Tom Cruise looks set to work with his Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman on a new project which would see the actor playing a pilot in the 1980s. No, it’s not another Top Gun, this time Cruse would be playing a real-life pilot called Barry Seal who was a gun runner and drug trafficker who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel. If Cruise and Liman sign on then the film, called Mena, is expected to be made later this year.

Stevie Wonder is working with NBC on a miniseries set against the background of America’s underground railway and the slaves who worked on it. The series is already being developed into. Broadway musical with Stevie writing the score. NBC has also signed a deal with Dolly Parton to work on a series of TV movies based on her songs, stories and life. The films are expected to include music but won’t be musicals and Dolly may appear in them.

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Lea Michele, Joe Manganiello, Abigail Breslin, Ariana Grande and Keke Palmer have joined the cast of new TV series Scream Queens. They join Jamie Lee Curtis and Emma Roberts who have already signed on to the drama which has been created by Ryan Murphy. Like almost all of Murphy’s shows (apart from Glee) it will be an anthology series with the first season set on a college campus which is rocked by a series of murders. The show will air from this autumn.

How’s this for a dream cast? Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carell are all in talks to appear in a new film called The Big Short. The multi-strand drama is set against backdrop of the housing and credit bubbles of the 2000s that led to the 2007-08 global financial crisis. Everyone’s currently in talks so we’ll have to see what happens but wouldn’t it be great if they all sign on?

Hugh Jackman is set to star in a new film about Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards. He won’t be playing the ski-jumper, that will be rising star Taron Egerton. Instead the Oscar-nominated actor will appear as Eddie’s mentor, Chuck Berghorn. The film’s been in development for years, I remember Rupert Grint being attached to play Eddie at one point, but it looks like it’s finally going ahead with Dexter Fletcher directing.

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Jennifer Lawrence is expected to play a freediver in a new film based on a true story. JLaw is in talks to star in The Dive which is being produced by James Cameron. Francis Lawrence is in talks to direct. The film tells the story of Francisco “Pipin” Ferraras and his wife Audrey Mestre, who competed to travel as deep as possible underwater on a single breath of air. Lawrence will play Mestre, who died during an attempt to beat her own world record of 557.7 feet.

Ben Affleck looks set to work with David Fincher once again on a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. To make it a proper Gone Girl reunion, Gillian Flynn is expected to write the script. Although based on Hitchcock’s adaptation of the original novel by Patricia Highsmith, the new version is expected to differ somewhat. Affleck will play a movie star in the middle of a campaign for an Oscar during awards season whose private plane breaks down and is given a ride to LA on another plane by a wealthy stranger. Sounds pretty awesome.

Meanwhile Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow are joining Affleck on another project. They’re both in talks to appear in thriller The Accountant. They join Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons and Jon Bernthal who have already been cast in the thriller which follows a mild-mannered accountant who also happens to be an assassin. Gavin O’Connor directs.

Edgar Wright may work with Ansel Elgort on his next film. Elgort is in early talks to star in Baby Driver Which is about a young getaway driver who is coerced into working for a crime boss.

Former West Wing star Bradley Whitford is joining the cast to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He will play the father of Andy Samberg’s character Jake Peralta. Whitford is set to appear in at least one episode as Captain Roger Peralta, a charming regional airline pilot who has made a career out of letting down Jake.

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New Sherlock Holmes image

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Here’s our first proper look at Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes in his new film, Mr Holmes.

Sir Ian plays the super sleuth as a 93-year-old now living in retirement with his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son.

But Sherlock is still haunted by a case he never solved (shock!) and sets out to search for the truth once and for all – but without the aid of his trusty Dr Watson.

The film is directed by Bill Condon who worked with McKellen on the brilliant Gods And Monsters. It will have its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival next month and should be in cinemas later this year.

Aidan Turner promotes Poldark

The Hobbit star Aidan Turner will attend a special preview of his new BBC drama series Poldark next month.

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Turner will join co-star Eleanor Tomlinson at the screening at the BFI Southbank on February 23.

Tickets go on sale to the public at 11.30am on January 20.

The series is set in Britain in 1783 as Ross Poldark (Turner) returns from the American War of Independence to his beloved Cornwall to find his world in ruins: his father dead, the family mine long since closed, his house wrecked and his sweetheart pledged to marry his cousin.

Premiere updates

Alicia Vikander will attend a special screening of her new film Testament of Youth at the BFI Southbank on Monday January 12.

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Colin Firth will be joined by Take That at the premiere of his new film Kingsman: The Secret Service on Wednesday January 14.

Johnny Depp will walk the red carpet in London on January 19 for the UK premiere of his new film, Mortdecai. He’ll be joined at the premiere by co-star Paul Bettany and the film’s director David Koepp. The premiere takes place at the Empire Leicester Square.

Casting Call – January 11

A weekly round-up of the latest casting news in film, TV and theatre:

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Just before Christmas it was announced David Oyelowo and Lupita N’yongo look set to star together in new film Americanah. Now they’re in talks to work together again in new Disney movie Queen of Katwe which is about a young African chess prodigy, Oyelowo is expected to play the young girl’s mentor with Oscar-winner N’yongo appearing as her mother. Filming is expected to begin in the spring.

Jennifer Hudson is to make her Broadway debut in a revival of The Color Purple. Hudson will play Shug Avery in the production which will open later this year and has Oprah Winfrey among its producers.

Phylicia Rashad has joined the cast of new film, Creed. The film will see Sylvester Stallone return as Rocky Balboa as he becomes the coach of a young boxer played by Michael B Jordan. Rashad will play the young boxer’s mother. Filming is due to begin later this month.

John Travolta is returning to TV for the first time in over 30 years. He will appear in new drama American Crime Story: The People vs O J Simpson. The show has been created by Ryan Murphy – the man behind Glee and American Horror Story – and will look at the Simpson trial from the perspective of both the defence and prosecution, Cuba Gooding Jr. will star as Simpson with former Friends actor David Schwimmer playing Robert Kardashian, one of Simpson’s lawyers.

It looks like the new Ghostbusters movie is finally gearing up to start shooting this summer. The new film will focus on a group of female Ghostbusters with Melissa McCarthy in talks to play the lead character. Other actresses being mooted for roles in the film include Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone and Rebel Wilson. The film is expected to include cameos from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson.

Snoop Dogg will play himself in an upcoming episode of new drama series Empire. The show debuted in the States this week and tied with How To Get Away With Murder as the top premiere of the new TV season. Snoop will appear in episode 11 which is expected to air in late February or early March.

Lena Dunham will appear in The Simpsons later in the year. She’ll appear in the premiere episode of the show’s 27th season as Candace, a pharmacist who helps Homer when he develops narcolepsy.

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The character was created especially for Dunham says The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean but Dunham is “not playing herself or Hannah from Girls. But it’s that funny, intellectual, slightly awkward, endearing tone that everybody’s familiar with, so we were just writing it with her voice in our heads.”

Sienna Miller will take over the role of Sally Bowles in the Broadway production of Cabaret next month. She follows Emma Stone who herself took over from Michelle Williams in the role. Miller who star in what’s currently expected to be the show’s final six weeks at Studio 54, running from February 17 to March 29.

Reese Witherspoon, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Sudeikis are to star in Alexander Payne’s new film. Downsizing is described as a social satire about a man who realises he could have a better life if he were to shrink himself. We’ll have a while to wait to see the film though, filming doesn’t begin until 2016 with the film expected to be released in late 2017.

Ted Danson, Patrick Wilson and Jean Smart have joined the cast of the second season of Fargo. They join Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons in the drama which is set in 1979 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Luverne, Minnesota. Production begins on January 19.

Michael Keaton’s Hollywood revival continues. He’s in talks to join Tom Hiddleston and JK Simmons in Kong: Skull Island. The film is set in the mysterious and dangerous home of the iconic ape as a team of explorers ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island.

Michael C Hall is the latest actor to join the cast of Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon. Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard and Wes Bentley have already been announced with newcomer Oakes Fegley playing Pete. No word yet on Hall’s role.

Meryl and co go Into The Woods

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This week I attended a press conference with Meryl Streep to promote her new film Into The Woods, which is out in UK cinemas now. The film is based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim and uses characters from well-known fairytales and look at what happens to them after their Happily Ever After. It’s quite dark but also funny and has a strong message. Streep plays the role of The Witch in the film and she says when director Rob Marshall offered her the role she felt she was almost destined to do it as Bernadette Peters was the first actress to play the Witch in the Broadway production, and Peters is an anagram of Streep!

The film has a great cast including James Corden, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Tracey Ullman, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine. Director Rob Marshall said he didn’t set out to have such an international cast but that he “cast the greatest people for the roles. I asked Meryl and Johnny do it but everyone else auditioned. There’s no-one else like Meryl for depth, humour and vulnerability. Every time I watch the movie it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time and that’s down to Meryl”.

Emily Blunt makes her musical debut in the film as she plays the Baker’s Wife. She says she didn’t know the story when she went for her audition and it was her husband John Krasinski who encouraged her to go for the role: “He doesn’t know musicals but he knew Into The Woods and he was singing it to me when I went for my audition. I did it because I wanted to work with Meryl again”.

Johnny Depp is also amongst the cast, playing the Wolf who has designs on Little Red Riding Hood. Marshall says the actor was excited to be part of the film: “Johnny is a creative force and an extraordinary man. He was excited to have a small part in a company. He was also excited to play the role and he was desperate to work with Meryl, that’s for sure!”.

I liked the film, for me it’s probably the best of the Rob Marshall directed musicals. It is a bit long though!