portman-bullock-gravity

Casting woes continue for Alfonso Cuarón‘s film Gravity. The movie, co-scripted by the director’s son Jonas, requires a strong female lead to anchor a story about a space-bound engineer who has to make her way back to an international space station in the wake of a catastrophe.

Angelina Jolie was offered the part, twice, and passed twice, and Natalie Portman was recently said to be in negotiations. Now we hear that she has said no, which leaves studio Warner Bros. turning toward Sandra Bullock.

UPDATE: Sandra Bullock is in active negotiations for the role, says THR.

Deadline says that Portman has said no to Gravity, and that Warner Bros is now “making a full court press for Sandra Bullock” to play the film’s lead. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise; Portman seemed like Cuarón’s choice, while Bullock, who has the greater box-office draw, is the studio’s pick.

The slam-dunk casting is Portman, no question — she could knock the picture out of the park. But I’d like to see what Bullock can do with it.  That said, I’ll be only half surprised if she passes. When you’re in line behind actresses like Jolie and Portman, who’ve both passed, would it seem like a job you’d be eager to dive into? Then again, these decisions are made for many reasons, and we haven’t read the latest script draft, which has been said to fix a lot of old problems.

Additionally, Deadline says that Natalie Portman will also likely not be doing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, though the site doesn’t give a reason. Speculate on whether that’s due to the scheduling issues that caused the departure of director David O. Russell, or creative reasons, or something else.

Back to Gravity, here’s a recap of what we know. If Bullock were to pass, who do you think might get the nod? Other actresses of interest have reportedly been Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Abbie Cornish, Rebecca Hall, Olivia Wilde and Blake Lively.

The recently very popular Olivia Wilde might seem like a risk to take, from the studio’s perspective, when it comes to carrying the $80m film. But she doesn’t actually have a draw commensurate with that budget. Not yet. (And she’s quite busy.) Who does have that draw, besides the actresses who have passed? Marion Cotillard could do the job, no question, and would sell it in other territories, so she might be the answer.

Here’s what we’ve known:

The script follows Ryan Stone, an engineer whose career path unexpectedly puts her on a space shuttle, doing repairs. (In a more recent draft, she’s working on repairing the Hubble.) She’s paired with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski. But things go very wrong. The Russians just blew up something that “creates a chain reaction of spraying debris that hits multiple satellites, which also end up exploding, and all of a sudden thousands of pieces of debris are heading straight towards the space shuttle.”Cutting forward a bit, that debris destroys the shuttle and eventually leaves Ryan alone, trying to make her way to the International Space Station and rescue. ScriptShadow says:

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong as the movie becomes a series of near death experiences. Ryan must jump from point to point – whether it be to a vessel, a station, or an oxygen tank – and survive long enough to make the journey to the next point after that (and so on). Each destination is accompanied by dangerous debris, dropping oxygen, and the strong chance that whatever she’s trying to get to might not be there. Think Apollo 13, but with the odds stacked 1 million times higher against you, if that’s possible.

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