Casting Net: Sacha Baron Cohen exits Freddie Mercury biopic; Plus Rapunzel gets a new prince in 'Into the Woods,' more

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Image Credit: Dave M. Benett/WireImage

Sacha Baron Cohen will no longer play Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the long-gestating biopic about the band, reportedly due to creative differences with the surviving members of Queen. Apparently, the band was quite involved in the process, rejecting proposed directors such as David Fincher and his Les Misérables director Tom Hooper, and insisting that the movie be PG. No word yet on other options to play Mercury. [Deadline]

• Tony-nominated actor and former As The World Turns star Billy Magnussen is set to replace Jake Gyllenhaal (who dropped out recently, reportedly to star in Nightcrawler) as Rapunzel’s prince in Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of Into the Woods. Magnussen recently appeared on Boardwalk Empire as Roger and had a memorable turn in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress as Thor. [Deadline]

• Vince Vaughn is trying out a new comedic partner in Dave Franco (Now You See Me), who has joined him in the comedy Business Trip. Ken Scott, who directed Vaughn in Delivery Man, is set to helm the project. Franco is also appearing alongside Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron in the Nicholas Stoller comedy Townies. [Variety]

• Imagen Poots (Greetings from Tim Buckley) has joined the cast of Peter Bogdonavich’s Squirrels to the Nuts, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. She’ll be taking on the role of an aspiring Broadway actress (and prostitute) who has an affair with Wilson’s character. 21 Jump Street’s Brie Larson was previously attached to play the part in the Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach-produced comedy. [The Wrap]

• Adrien Brody (The Pianist) is attached to play Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame in the biopic Banking on Mr. Toad. Luis Mandoki (Message in a Bottle) is set to direct. The project has been in the works for over 10 years, but it may finally begin production by the end of the year. [Screen Daily]

• Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) is about to start production on the independent film The Surface, about two strangers who meet in the middle of Lake Michigan after a plane crash. Chris Mulkey (The Purge) will star as the other man, with Gil Cates, Jr. (Lucky) set to direct. [Variety]

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