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Casting Net: Idris Elba in talks for Sean Penn action pic; Plus, 'Veronica Mars' updates, more

• Idris Elba (Prometheus) is in talks to join Sean Penn and Javier Bardem in the action flick The Gunman. Taken‘s Pierre Morel is set to direct the project about what happens when an international operative is betrayed by his organization. Elba’s being considered for the role of Dupont, vaguely described as a “mysterious operative.” The story is based on Jean-Patrick Manchette‘s novel The Prone Gunman. [THR]

• Ray Winstone (The Departed) has also joined The Gunman. He’ll play a mentor to Penn’s character. [Deadline]
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Casting Net: Johnny Depp exits gangster pic 'Black Mass'; Plus, Forest Whitaker may play Martin Luther King, Jr., more

• Johnny Depp is a busy man. He’s got a major summer release on the horizon with The Lone Ranger, he’s filming Wally Pfister’s Transcendence, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is expected to start shooting in January, and he’s also gearing up for Disney’s adaptation of Into the Woods. But, the actor did decide to exit the Barry Levinson-directed Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, reportedly due to a salary cut asked of Depp, who had been circling the project for some time and officially committed in late February 2013. Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty) recently joined Black Mass to play an FBI agent who is close with Bulger. Cross Creek Pictures has not yet announced a replacement. [THRREAD FULL STORY

'Drive' director Nicolas Winding Refn in talks to helm 'The Equalizer' starring Denzel Washington

Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn may likely helm Sony Pictures and Escape Artists’ The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington in the lead as a justice-seeking covert ops officer.

Refn’s agents confirm to EW that he’s in early talks to direct the movie based on the TV series, which ran from the mid to late 1980s, starring Edward Woodward and Keith Szarabajka.

Production on the film, scripted by Richard Wenk, is slated to begin in late spring 2013, with Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Alex Siskin, Mace Neufeld, Tony Eldridge, Michael Sloan (the show’s original co-creator), and Washington himself producing, and David Bloomfield as executive producer.

Refn scored last year directing the noir-ish throwback Drive, with Ryan Gosling praised for his starring role as a quiet getaway driver prone to violence.

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Are Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn the next De Niro and Scorsese?

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