Casting Friday: Ultra-Spader, Huisman of Thrones, and More

Each Friday, I will summarize the important casting news or rumors from the preceding week, giving you a preview of who’ll be playing who in the future!

Ultra-Spader

Less than a week after the earth-shattering casting news for the Man of Steel sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron is not to be outdone. Announced yesterday, Ultron, the titular villain of the film, will be played by James Spader, a veteran screen actor.

The actor’s career goes all the way back to Hughes’ classic Pretty in Pink, but more recently he’d be better known as Robert California in The Office, his work on Boston Legal, or Lincoln

Spader seems to be a well-liked actor, as the response online has been largely positive, in sharp contrast to last weeks news. It isn’t like Spader looks particularly like Ultron. In fact, considering the villain is a robot, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason he would look like James Spader. Perhaps the idea is to use motion capture, or just the actor’s voice? No further details to clarify this point were released. If this shows us anything, it’s that, obviously, the internet is far more open to having their villains redefined than the heroes. I suppose it stands to reason.

Joss Whedon recently spoke about the character of Ultron, making it clear Spader will have work to do aside from “standard robot stuff”:

“I knew right away what I wanted to do with him. He’s always trying to destroy the Avengers, goddamn it, he’s got a bee in his bonnet. He’s not a happy guy, which means he’s an interesting guy. He’s got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff. So we’ll take away some of those powers because at some point everybody becomes magic, and I already have someone [Scarlet Witch] who’s a witch.”

Huisman Naharis

michiel-huismanGame of Thrones fans must be sitting on the edge of their seats as the fourth season of the show is being filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Dutch actor Michiel Huisman will be appearing in the series.

It was later confirmed that Huisman would actually be replacing an existing cast member – Ed Skrein, who played Daario Naharis in the previous season.

There has been no word on why Ed Skrein is leaving the show.

Huisman recently appeared in World War Z, the series Treme, and the recently passed-on The Sixth Gun pilot, based on the Oni comic book.

Bernal Desierto

220px-GaelGarciaBernalLFFJonas Cuaron, son of director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of MenGravity), is making his English-language feature debut in Desierto, about illegal immigrants being pursued by an American that had taken the border patrol in his own hands.

Gael Garcia Bernal is set to star in the film as one of the immigrants leads.

While I am not familiar with Jonas Cuaron’s previous work, Bernal is a fantastic actor, and Alfonso Cuaron is one of the greatest currently working directors, so with him producing, I have faith in this being a potentially impressive movie.

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Casting Friday: Batffleck, Rocket Cooper, Scarlet Olsen, and more

Each Friday, I will summarize the important casting news or rumors from the preceding week, giving you a preview of who’ll be playing who in the future!

Batffleck

affleckIn what is by far the biggest movie headline of the week, Ben Affleck was confirmed to be playing Bruce Wayne/Batman in the upcoming Batman vs Superman movie. The news coming out last night simultaneously ended months of speculation, and set hundreds of thousands of fans on a joke/complaint tirade across the internet.

This is hardly surprising, as the decision is definitely controversial. Ben Affleck has gone from being written off by Hollywood entirely, to winning several Oscars last year for Argo. His road to redemption has, however, been in more grounded films, playing simpler characters, and letting the film’s writing and directing drive the picture. Is a return to superheroics a good idea for Affleck? That being said, Affleck is clearly a capable actor, and while his resume is not characterized by very broodingly dark characters, maybe that is precisely what the Batman franchise needs. Clearly, the era of the Dark Knight is done, Christin Bale is not returning to the role. Going in a slightly different direction is what the new DC franchise very much needed.

Zack Snyder, director of Man of Steel as well as the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film had the following to say in the press that broke the story: “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.” Ben Affleck is Cavill’s senior by 11 years.

This is not the first we’ve heard of Affleck flirting with the DCU, of course – a year ago, Affleck reportedly may have been offered the director’s chair for a Justice League movie, and turned it down, sources claiming he may simply be not interested if he is not allowed to play one of the leading characters.

An interesting side-note is the fact that Affleck himself has already played Superman – or at least, worn the suit, when he played George Reeves, the 50s TV Superman, in the 2006 biopic Hollywoodland.

The same press release that confirmed the casting news, also reported on an initial release date, which is July 17th, 2015. This sets the release of the film two months after the planned May 1st release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is sure to be the film’s main competition in the box office. So, three years later, we have another Avengers vs Batman rematch in terms of success in the cinemas; a battle which was won by the Avengers in 2012, making over 623 mln. in domestic box office vs Dark Knight Rises‘ 448.

I suppose we really won’t know what to really expect with the direction the character is taking until we begin seeing set photos and a trailer, which will most likely be coming in a bit over a year.

ComicBookResources’ poll currently says 49.3 percent of voters said “I’m not sure – I’ll have to wait and see”, while 34.8 percent selected “He’s absolutely the wrong choice”, and 15.9% – “He’s perfect for the role – I love it!”. What do you think? State your opinions below!

Rocket Cooper

cooperMoving over to the Marvel side, last week we had news that Vin Diesel is voicing Groot in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. This leaves one spot on the core cast available – that of Rocket Raccoon, the talking, flying, gun-toting racoon.

It may be filled shortly, however. According to Latino Review, which, while having a spotty record, has broken big Marvel news in the past (including the fact the studio is working on a Guardians of the Galaxy film), claims that Bradley Cooper is in talks to voice the character in the upcoming picture.

This news has since been confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter, making this seem all the more likely to be true.

Scarlet Olsen

olsenThe same article by The Hollywood Reporter also claimed that Elizabeth Olsen, who made big waves in the indie community in 2011 with Martha Marcy May Marlene, and is starring in next year’s Godzilla, is in talks to play the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Her and the character’s brother Quicksilver are the two major new additions to the hero cast of the film, with all of the Avengers from last year’s film expected to return.

Olsen’s talks for the role are evidently further along than Cooper’s are for the Guardians.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is reportedly in talks to play Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch’s brother. Quicksilver is also set to appear in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Cumberbatch-less Peak

cumberbatchBenedict Cumberbatch has dropped out of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, a gothic horror film which the filmmaker says will be “the first time I get to do a movie more akin to what I do in the Spanish movies.”

According to Deadline, Cumberbatch’s departure is not due to scheduling conflicts – which means there was likely some disagreement or creative difference must have caused it. Perhaps with time, the details of the move will be released.

The film is still expected to star Mia Wasikowska in the lead role.

22 Russell Street

Wyatt Russell, who previously had roles in Cowboys & Aliens and This is 40, is confirmed to have a role in the sequel to last year’s delightfully funny 21 Jump Street, which will feature the returning characters played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in college. The sequel will be called 22 Jump Street and is set for a June 13, 2014 release.

Vin Diesel Claims to Be Playing Groot in Upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy

grootAccording to CinemaBlend, Vin Diesel is voicing the character Groot in Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. This comes after months of speculation and guessing, mostly generated by Vin DIesel himself continuously teasing various meetings with Marvel. One gets the impression Diesel is too impatient, breaking news that Marvel subsequently has to come out and debunk as being simply not true.

It started a month ago, as Vin Diesel put up on his Facebook page the following message: “P.s. Marvel has requested a meeting… no idea what for… haha, you probably know better than me…” The teasing message set the internet on fire, particularly considering that almost a year before that, he had already stirred rumors himself by setting a picture of Vision of Avengers as his profile photo.

Vin DIesel in Avengers 2?

Vin Diesel in Avengers 2?

This was followed up by a picture in July next to an issue of Avengers #2, coupled with a cryptic mention of “tunnel vision” –

Marvel meeting today…

Only the people in the room can tell you what was discussed…P.s. Thanks to Our page, for pushing to make it happen… you know I get tunnel vision with my work… and after that meeting today… wow!

After all of this, however, Kevin Feige, Head of Marvel Studios, publicly denied any immediate plans regarding Diesel’s role in the cinematic universe: “No. It’s so far ahead it may not even exist. So, there’s nothing to announce. But, I love Vin and he’s an amazing personality. Look how much attention he’s gotten for a meeting. He’s incredibly shrewd. He’s got a Riddick movie that I can’t wait to see. And the “Fast & Furious” franchise, in addition to Vin, is a franchise I admire a lot for turning the sixth and next year the seventh into the biggest and most popular one. As far as a piece of it? Could someday we do a “Luke Cage: Hero for Hire” in that kind of vein. Totally.”

Earlier today, however, the actor confirmed he is playing Groot, the tree-like Guardian of the Galaxy. The actor is evidently excited to do the role because it “defies expectations”: “So if everybody thinks you’re going to go for this one thing and you flip it entirely and go for the strangest Marvel character, it’s interesting. And when something is interesting, it’s inspiring.”

I’m not sure if I’m inspired by the choice, but it is exciting to have the next-to-last GoG spot filled. Diesel also indicated that the actual role he took may have been due to scheduling, planning to knock out the part between press for the upcoming Riddick and filming Fast and Furious 7.

In other news, the first production stills of Guardians of the Galaxy surfaced earlier this week – you can see the pictures below, featuring someone identified as Glenn Close, playing Nova Prime in heavy make-up, as well as a Nova Corps member, and some aliens fleeing from an unseen danger. guardians4 guardians3 guardians2