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Casting Net: Jack Huston to star as title role in 'Ben-Hur' remake

• Boardwalk Empire actor Jack Huston will take the chariot reins as the title role in the upcoming remake of Ben-Hur. Previously, Tom Hiddleston had been in talks for the role of slave Judah Ben-Hur in the Paramount and MGM picture. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) is directing the film adapted by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) and Keith Clarke (The Way Back) that is said to be based more on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ than the 1959 film that starred Charlton Heston. Morgan Freeman has already been cast as Ildarin, the teacher who helps make the slave Ben-Hur into chariot racer champion. The movie is set to be released February 26, 2016. [Deadline]

• Katey Sagal will play the mother of fighter Vinny Pazienza in Bleed For This. The Sons of Anarchy star joins the previously announced Miles Teller as the former world champ nicknamed the Pazmanian Devil. Writer/director Ben Younger (Prime) will oversee a cast that also includes Aaron Eckhart, Amanda Clayton (John Carter), Ciaran Hinds (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) and Tom DeNucci (Loosies) while filming begins in Rhode Island next month. [Deadline]

• Shortly before the release of A Walk Among the TombstonesLiam Neeson has already been approached to star in another thriller novel adaptation for film. Universal has begun working on Tell No One by bestselling novelist Harlan Coben with the hopes that Neeson would star. Chris Terrio (Argo) has written the script from the source material that was already made into a French film in 2006. [Deadline]

• House of Cards‘ Kate Mara has reportedly been offered a role in Ridley Scott’s The Martian. Adapted from the book by Andy Weir, the film will star Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars. Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods) has written the script that has had Jessica Chastain and Kristen Wiig in talks for lead roles as well with a Nov. 25, 2015 release. [Deadline]

• John Leguizamo, Nick Sandow (Orange is the New Black) and Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) have joined the ensemble cast of Meadowland. Cinematographer Reed Morano (The Skeleton Twins) is making her directorial debut in the drama written by Chris Rossi. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson star as a couple dealing with the disappearance of their son in drastically different ways with Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Ty Simpkins (Insidious), Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi), Mark Feuerstein (Royal Pains), Kevin Corrigan (The Departed) and Juno Temple also appearing as various New Yorkers they come in contact with. Orange is the New Black Emmy nominee Natasha Lyonne was previously attached to the film but has since dropped out due to a schedule conflict. [Screen Daily]

• Tony Award winner Audra McDonald is in talks to star in a film version of the musical Hello Again. Based on the play La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler, the off-Broadway tuner from Michael John LaChiusa follows the sexual trysts of 10 characters in 10 different scenes across several generations. Tom Gustafson will direct the film that partner Cory Krueckeberg has adapted. No word on which character McDonald would play after winning a record-breaking sixth Tony as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at the Emerson Grill. [ShowBiz 411]

• Kevin Pollak (Mom) and Joey King (Wish I Was Here) are heading up north for the indie Canadian road trip movie BorealisJonas Chernick (Degrassi) stars in his own screenplay as an unemployed gambler on the run with his stoner teenage daughter (King) from a volatile bookie (Pollack) chasing after them. Sean Garrity is directing the film that also features Jake Epstein (Degrassi), Greg Bryk (A History of Violence) and Cle Bennett (Rookie Blue). [THR]

• John Carroll Lynch, who will soon appear as the villainous clown on the upcoming season of American Horror Story: Freak Show, has been cast as Jerry Sandusky in Happy Valley. Director Brian De Palma is set to reunite with his Scarface star Al Pacino as the late Joe Paterno in the film about the Penn State coach’s legacy and the abuse scandal that ultimately lead to his firing shortly before his death from cancer. The script written by Dave McKenna (American History X) is based on Joe Posnanski’s bestselling book Paterno. [The Wrap]

• Katherine Waterston (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) will star opposite Elisabeth Moss in the psychological thriller Queen of Earth. Waterson replaces Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery who withdrew when scheduling didn’t work out. The film from Listen Up Phillip director Alex Ross Perry follows two best friends trying to reconnect with each other on a beach vacation. [THR]

• Joey Kern (Workaholics)Luke Edwards (The Wizard)Bree Williamson (True Detective) and Brad Greenquist (Water for Elephants) have signed on for the meta horror film The Beginners Guide to Snuff from directing duo The Butcher Brothers (The Violent Kind), aka Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores. Kern and Edwards star as two actor brothers trying to make it in Hollywood who decide to actually kidnap an actress (Williamson) while making a pretend snuff film in order to make it as terrifying as possible. They soon realize they picked the wrong girl. Greenquist will play the dark head of security at a theme park in the movie written by Cory Knauf, Adam Weis and Altieri. [THR]

PREVIOUSLY: Matt Smith joins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Casting Net: Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning to star in Ben Affleck's 'Live by Night'

• Once he takes off his Batman cape, Ben Affleck will direct Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning in the Prohibition Era film Live By Night. Affleck has adapted the Dennis Lehane novel himself, reuniting the pair after Affleck’s feature debut Gone Baby Gone, which  was also based on a Lehane novel. The story centers around Joe Coughlin, the police captain’s son who gets himself involved in the world of organized crime. Miller will play Emma, the girlfriend of Coughlin’s mobster boss whom he falls in love with. Saldana has been cast as Graciella Suarez, a woman Coughlin meets in Tampa, with Fanning landing the coveted role of Loretta Figgis, the sheriff’s daughter and an aspiring actress. [Deadline]

• Shia LaBeoufKate Mara (House of Cards) and Gary Oldman will star in Man Down, a psychological thriller from director Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints). The film is set in a post-apocalyptic America as an Afghanistan war veteran dealing with his haunted memories searches for his family. Adam Simon (Synapse) has written the script with filming expecting to begin in Louisiana at the end of next month. [Variety]

• Sons Of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam and The Wolf Of Wall Street star Margot Robbie are in talks to star in The Mountain Between Us, an adaptation of the Charles Martin book. Paradise Now director Hany Abu-Assad will helm the survival love story about two strangers who meet after their flight is canceled out of Salt Lake City. Robbie is also in early talks to star in the adaptation of the Japanese comic book Ghost in the Shell for DreamWorks. Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) is directing from a script by Bill Wheeler about a member a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission specializing in technology-related crime. [Deadline, Deadline]

• Danish director Joachim Trier has added Oscar nominees Amy Ryan and David Strathairn to the cast of his English-language debut film, Louder Than Bombs Devin McKenzie Druid, who played a younger version of Louis C.K. on Louie, also joins the cast that already includes Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg and Isabelle Huppert about a father and his two sons returning the their childhood home after the death of their wife and mother, a celebrated photographer. [Deadline]

• Nymphomaniac actress Stacy Martin will star in the high-concept thriller Taj Mahal. French screenwriter Nicolas Saada (Sleepless Night) will write and direct the film set during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. The international cast will also include Italy’s Alba Rohrwacher (The Wonders), French actor Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (Superstar) and British actress Gina McKee (Jimmy P.). [THR]

PREVIOUSLY: Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts to star in Demolition 

Kate Mara's 'Fantastic Four' comments explained: Movie will be based on comics

Kate Mara was catapulted into the comic fan spotlight Tuesday, when a translation of an Esquire Latin America article suggested that 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot wouldn’t be based on a single comic from the series—or on anything that’s already been published about the superhero team.

In an IndieWire report, Mara, who plays Sue Storm in the pic, was quoted as having said: “I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one. I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published. So I chose to follow his instructions. The one fact is I am a fan of comic book movies, so it’s very exciting to be part of a movie like this.” READ FULL STORY

'Fantastic Four' casting: Fox zeroes in on its final 4

It’s almost clobberin’ time. Twentieth Century Fox is in serious talks with a quartet of in-demand actors to cast its new Fantastic Four. According to The Wrap, Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Michael B. Jordan are close to signing on for the superhero reboot from director Josh Trank. Jordan, who worked with Trank on Chronicle, has long been rumored to play Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, but Fox declined to confirm that a deal for the Fruitvale Station actor, or the other three stars, had been reached — yet.

Teller, who starred opposite Jordan in That Awkward Moment, is considered the frontrunner for Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic. Mara (House of Cards) reportedly recently auditioned for the role of Sue Storm, a.k.a. the Invisible Woman, and Bell (AMC’s upcoming series, Turn) is linked to the CG-enhanced rock-hulk, the Thing, a.k.a. Ben Grimm.

Don’t expect Fox to take too much more time to announce their superheros. Fantastic Four already has a release date of June 19, 2015.

Casting Net: Oliver Stone confirms Martin Luther King Jr. biopic with Jamie Foxx; Plus, David Oyelowo, more

 Director Oliver Stone (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) has confirmed that he and Jamie Foxx are officially moving forward with plans to make an authorized biopic of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life story. Warner Bros. and DreamWorks will distribute the film, which, according to The Wrap, is being produced by Steven Spielberg. [Wall Street Journal]
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Casting Net: Anne Hathaway and Chloe Moretz might play best friends; Plus, Kate Mara, Peter Fonda, more

• Things have been pretty quiet for Anne Hathaway on the casting front since her Best Supporting Actress win, but we just assumed that she was waiting to line up the perfect post-Oscar project. She may have found that in Lynn Shelton’s (Your Sister’s Sister) next project Laggies — a dark comedy about a late 20-something afraid of growing up. Chloë Moretz, Sam Rockwell, and Mark Webber are also in talks to star. With a script by Like the Red Panda author Andrea Siegel, Hathaway would play Megan, the 20-something in question. When her boyfriend (potentially Webber) proposes to her, she decides to hide from life with her 16-year-old best friend Annika (Moretz). [Deadline]

House of Cards’ Kate Mara is coming back to the big screen to join Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall in Wally Pfister’s Transcendence. No word yet on her role, but we continue to be very excited for Pfister’s directorial debut. He’s even got the support of his longtime collaborator Christopher Nolan who is serving as a producer on the project along Emma Thomas (Nolan’s wife and producer). Pfister has tapped Jess Hall (Brideshead Revisited) to serve as cinematographer. [Deadline]

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Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, and the rest of young Hollywood star in high school reunion film '10 Years' -- EXCLUSIVE POSTER

10-YEARS-POSTER

One day, while hanging out on the Charleston, S.C. set of the 2010 Nicholas Sparks weepie Dear John, star Channing Tatum got to talking with costar Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) and the film’s screenwriter, Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall). Porter and Linden were old high school buddies, and they’d just come back from their 10 year reunion. “Channing didn’t go to his,” Linden tells EW, “so he had a bunch of questions.” Soon, producers Reid Carolin, Marty Bowen, and Wyck Godfrey joined in.

Sometimes, filmmaking is just that simple: Stars + writer + producers + personal experience = The indie ensemble comedy 10 Years, written and directed by Linden, and starring Tatum, Porter, and a who’s who cavalcade of young Hollywood. EW has an exclusive first look at the poster for the film, which opens Sept. 14 — check it out below:  READ FULL STORY

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