Casting Net: Cate Blanchett to star in Mamet film; Plus Samuel L. Jackson mentors teens and Scarlett Johansson runs a restaurant

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Image Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

  • Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is playing the lead role in Blackbird, a present-day take on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Blanchett’s character, Janet, discovers that her grandfather – a Hollywood visual effects artist who also worked for the U.S. government – had been keeping secrets about the president’s death. Traveling to Los Angeles after his death, she embarks on a twisting, turning journey to discover the truth. David Mamet wrote the script for the thriller. [Variety Exclusive]
  • In final negotiations to star in a film about a teen assassin, Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers) has been tapped to play the role of mentor and teacher opposite True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld. The story follows a 16-year-old contract killer who decides she has had enough, fakes her death and runs away to suburbia. Aptly named Barely Lethal, the film will be produced by Brett Ratner. [Variety Exclusive]
  • Jon Favreau’s Chef has gotten another A-lister. Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers) has signed on to play Molly, the restaurant manager and love interest of Favreau’s character. After their turn in Iron Man 2, Favreau told Variety he was honored to be collaborating again. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr. and Sofia Vergara, and follows the titular chef’s journey after losing his job and starting up a food truck to regain some control over the creativity of his cuisine – and the respect of his family. [Variety Exclusive]
  • Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) will star in John Slattery‘s directorial debut, God’s Pocket. Fellow Mad Men actor Christina Hendricks also stars in the gritty story about a man with debts to pay, a wife who doesn’t love him and a body he can’t bury in the blue-collar neighborhood of God’s Pocket. [The Wrap]
  • Damien Lewis (Homeland) and Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) will play opposite each other in The Silent Storm. Riseborough plays a woman who finds herself torn between her commanding husband, played by Lewis, and a 17-year-old delinquent on a small Scottish island. The film was written and will be directed by Corinna Villari-McFarlane. [Screen Daily]
  • Seann William Scott (Role Models) will star in Guidance, a reunion for Myriad Pictures and Scott after last year’s hockey comedy Goon. The film is about a high school counselor who begins to alter transcripts to help students. The film co-stars Leslie Bibb (Iron Man). Guidance will be produced by Chris and Paul Weitz and Andrew Miano (the minds behind the American Pie films). [The Wrap]
  • Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) is rumored to be joining Paul Thomas Anderson‘s latest, Inherent Vice. The book that the film is based on is set in the 1970s, and details a junkie detective’s investigation of a missing ex-girlfriend. The casting would pair Witherspoon with former costar Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line). Owen Wilson and Benicio Del Toro are also set to star. [Deadline]
  • Chris Pine (Star Trek) isn’t wasting any time lining up his next projects, as he was just confirmed to star with Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables) in producer Tobey Maguire‘s (The Great Gatsby) film Z for Zachariah. The film is about a teenage girl who maintains the family farm in some of the only remaining fresh air after a nuclear attack. She lives alone until two strangers come and disturb her way of life. Craig Zobel directs. [Variety]
  • Deadline reports that Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) has been tapped to play alongside Johnny Depp (The Lone Ranger) in Black Mass. Based on actual events, the movie is the story of a criminal who avoids capture thanks to the help of a childhood friend and FBI agent. Edgerton will play the agent, a man who eventually is convicted of obstruction of justice after his plan to help his friend goes south. Depp’s character, Whitey Bulger, is the basis for many kingpin characters like Jack Nicholson‘s in The Departed. [Deadline]

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