Briefly: Oliver Stone‘s new film is Savages, based on Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name, about two small-time pot growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) and their shared girlfriend O (Blake Lively). Their little world gets messed up when O is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel as a means of strong-arming the two guys into working for the cartel.

This first image from the film shows Lively as she’s held by the cartel, where she is evidently smoked out in a rather menacing way by one primary henchman, played by Benicio Del Toro. The rest of the cast is notable: Uma Thurman is O’s mom; Salma Hayek is the cartel boss and John Travolta is a DEA agent. Emile Hirsch and Demián Bichir have roles as well. Savages doesn’t hit until September 28, so we might have to wait a while for a trailer. [Universal via Empire]

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This week, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley chat about the virtues of the Elite Squad films, praise Puss in Boots as a film better than its marketing would suggest, and try not to lose all hope in John Carter and the live action Akira remake. Special guest Eric D. Snider joins us from Film.com and Movie BS. Also, correction: Cell 211 is available on Netflix in what appears to be a region 1 DVD!

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next Sunday (12/11) at Slashfilm’s live page at 10 PM EST / 7 PM PST, where we’ll be reviewing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Check out this Tor.com essay on Akira.

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Here’s the downside to trying to develop a highly-anticipated movie in secret, as practiced by J.J. Abrams: rumors will always poke holes whatever shroud producers, directors and studios try to draw around a film. For the last few weeks we’ve been under the impression that Benicio Del Toro would be in the Star Trek sequel that Abrams is prepping right now, and the persistent speculation has been that he would play Khan. That speculation gained steam, evolving fully into rumor last week, thanks to a report from Latino Review, and despite a denial Abrams provided to HitFix.

Now we might have some context for that denial, as Vulture reports that Benicio del Toro won’t be in the film after all, because his deal talks broke down last week. Read More »

[Update: J.J. Abrams has stated that this rumor is "Not true." In his original story, El Mayimbe said to "expect rebuttals and denials." Which one is telling the truth? We probably won't know for sure for awhile. Original story follows.]

A few weeks ago, we heard that J.J. Abrams wanted Benicio Del Toro for a villain role in the forthcoming Star Trek sequel. Back then, Germain speculated that Del Toro might be a great fit for the role of Khan. Now, El Mayimbe over at Latino Review has heard from unnamed sources that Del Toro will in fact be taking on the role of Khan Noonien Singh.
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For Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, director Nicholas Meyer knew he needed a larger than life, imposing personality to play the lead villain Khan. He, of course, went with Mexican born actor Ricardo Montalbán to play the role he originated on the show. In the new Star Trek sequel, director J.J. Abrams is said to also be eying a debonair actor from a neighboring country to plague the Starship Enterprise: the Puerto Rican born Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro. Variety reports Del Toro has met with Abrams and will soon be offered the mystery role of lead villain in the upcoming sequel to 2009′s Star Trek. Read More »

Scarlett Johansson may seem like an unlikely lead for a Judd Apatow film, but in this context her casting actually makes a lot of sense. Johansson has signed on to star in Can a Song Save Your Life?, which will be written and directed by John Carney (Once) and produced by Apatow. The film follows “a washed-up A&R man who forms a passionate bond with a young singer-songwriter (Johansson) from out of town.”

The project calls for Johansson to sing, which shouldn’t be a problem for the actress. Johansson is in fact a professional singer, having released an album of Tom Waits covers titled Anywhere I Lay My Head back in 2008 and a collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up in 2009. Though the male lead has yet to be cast, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Carrey have been rumored as possibilities. (FWIW, I vote Ruffalo.) Shooting on the film will begin in New York City next year. [The Playlist]

After the jump, new gigs for the stars of Twilight, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the late-’90s/early-’00s teen alien show Roswell. Gosh, remember that?

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We had a couple of days where mid-level casting for a lot of projects was going crazy. Maybe there was something in the air; maybe casting directors and agents just all got together and had a field day. It’s been a bit slower today, but still there are a couple of items to catch up on. After the break, you’ll find info on how:

  • Robin Williams appears to be cast in Gently Down the Stream, with Robert De Niro and Susan Sarandon.
  • Joel David Moore (Avatar) will be in Oliver Stone’s Savages.
  • and Katie Cassidy takes the lead in Freaky Deaky. Read More »

From Weeds to weed — Demian Bichir is making the move into Oliver Stone‘s world. The director is making Savages, based on the book by Don Winslow. He already has quite the cast lined up: Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson play up and coming pot dealers coerced into working for a drug cartel when their girlfriend O (Blake Lively) is kidnapped. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro are all in the cast, and now Demian Bichir has signed on, too. Read More »

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