Actors signing on to play real-life figures is nothing new, but casting, say, Jesse Eisenberg in the role of ordinary-looking dude Mark Zuckerberg is one thing. When the character in question is a larger-than-life icon whose unique looks and mannerisms are recognized all over the globe, that’s something else entirely, whether it’s Michael Douglas playing Liberace, Michelle Williams doing her best Marilyn Monroe — or Eric Bana rocking the King’s pompadour.

The Aussie actor has signed on to star as Elvis Presley in Elvis & Nixon, the directorial debut of Cary Elwes. Bana will also executive produce, through his shingle Pick Up Truck Pictures. Meanwhile, Danny Huston is in final negotiations to play the other title role, of U.S. president Richard M. Nixon.

The story, which was written by Elwes with Joey Sagal and Hanala Sagal, revolves around a real-life visit that Presley paid to Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. The meeting came about after Presley wrote Nixon a letter requesting that he be allowed to visit and suggesting that the President make him an agent at large with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Presley brought family photos and a Colt .45 pistol to give the President as gifts. Elvis & Nixon will begin shooting in Los Angeles and Louisiana at an unspecified date. [The Hollywood Reporter]

After the jump, Robert De Niro also tackles a true-life tale — that of Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff.

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The Clash of the Titans sequel, which has been referred to as Wrath of the Titans but a press release today calls Clash of the Titans 2, started shooting this week under the direction of Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles). Sam Worthington returns to star as Perseus, but it looks like Gemma Arterton‘s commitment to Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters means she definitely won’t be in the film, as her name is MIA from the release. We’ve now got a pretty full cast line-up, and a full plot for the film, after the break. Read More »

Danny Huston will join Nicolas Cage in the Taken-like action thriller Medallion. The film has Nic Cage as a thief whose daughter is abducted and shoved in the trunk of a NYC cab. With help from another thief who is also his ex-girlfriend (Malin Akerman) the guy faces a ticking clock if he wants to rescue his girl.

Simon West directs, from a script by David Guggenheim and the film is just about to shoot in New Orleans. We don’t yet know Danny Huston’s role. [The Playlist]

After the break, Luke Evans is an Amateur American, and Rock of Ages opens up a key role to newcomers. Read More »

One of the more promising projects for the next couple years (don’t expect this until 2012 at least) is The Congress, in which Waltz With Bashir director Ari Folman liberally adapts a story (‘The Futurological Congress‘) by revered speculative fiction author Stanislaw Lem. The film is planned as a mix of live-action and animation, and we’ve already seen a taste of what the animation will look like.

Robin Wright stars as a struggling actress whose image has been bought and co-opted; she’s essentially outmoded and unnecessary. As the film moves forward, animation takes the place of live action and Robin Wright’s character is seen in what appears to be a dystopian future of sorts, where manufactured pharmaceuticals play a big role in life. Details are thin right now and, honestly, that’s OK. It’s good to be tantalized by a film like this, and with Ari Folman directing I’m happy to be along for the ride. But there are new details: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In) has been cast, and it appears that Danny Huston, Paul Giamatti and Harvey Keitel have parts, too. Read More »

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Ray Winstone is currently starring in 44 Inch Chest, which was written by Sexy Beast writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto. Mellis and Scinto have since stopped working together, and Scinto is now poised to make the jump to director. As leading man in his debut Night Flower, he’s tapped a reliable presence: Ray Winstone. From there the cast gets better, as Ben Whishaw and Andrew Garfield are currently in talks to join.

We don’t have many details on the script, which Scinto wrote and is called a “terrifying romantic thriller” in THR‘s report. As shooting is not scheduled to start until this fall we’ll probably have to wait a bit before hearing any more. But having Winstone, Whishaw and Garfield together should be great, and I’m excited to see what Scinto comes up with on his own.

After the break, the young version of Conan the Barbarian is cast, and the animated pic Monster in Paris gets some good voices. Read More »

thornton-huston-milla

The casting news tonight is all over the place: First we have Billy Bob Thornton teaming up with Dwayne Johnson in Faster, a George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor, Notorious) action drama vehicle. Johnson will star as Driver, an ex-con out for revenge  following his brother’s murder. Thornton plays Cop, a (you guessed it) police officer tailing Driver. There’s also Killer, a hitman who’s after Driver for some reason (my god, maybe he killed Driver’s brother?!). The latter role remains uncast.

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Here’s a couple of short casting bites. First up, according to THR Danny Huston has joined the cast of Ridley Scott‘s still-untitled Robin Hood picture, which is currently shooting in England. The awesome Huston — well, maybe not so awesome in Wolverine, but just check him out in The Proposition — is stepping in as Richard the Lionhearted. You might remember that Iain Glen briefly played the same figure in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, which takes place in a timeline that slightly overlaps this new Robin Hood picture.

And, confirming news that started to percolate over a month ago, Jason Statham is in final talks to join the London-set serial killer thriller Blitz. Details after the jump. Read More »

laundry_warrior

When Sngmoo Lee‘s debut film was initially announced, the title was Laundry Warrior. Now that far more distinctive title has been ditched for the less provocative, perhaps even less mysterious, The Warrior’s Way. A promo reel for the Wuxia Western – think Samurai swordplay on the old West frontier – has appeared to leak online, via YouTube where it was discovered by 24fps. As it is unofficial and premature, don’t expect it to be entirely indicative of the finished product (as if that was ever true of officially sanctioned trailers anyway) but you can catch it after the break and get, I think, a good idea of the fun in store.

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Mel Gibson On The Edge of Darkness in New Pic

hearts of darkness empire

I’ve been picking up a vague idea that – and you know, tell me if you’ve sensed it too – that Empire are trying really hard at the moment. Be sure and stop by their site to at least give them something back in return, eh?

Their latest scoop is an image from Edge of Darkness. Directed by Martin Campbell, who pretty much single handedly rescued the Bond franchise not once but twice, the film stars Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone and Danny Huston. In their image, Mel Gibson is seen with Bojana Novakovic, with him coming across as quizzical and concerned and her coming across as… well… dead.

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21 Grams on Hulu

Critically acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s second collaboration with Guillermo Arriaga, 21 Grams, is now available for free on Hulu. The film tells three stories starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, Danny Huston, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Not nearly as great as his debut feature Amores Perros, 21 Grams is still worth checking out. Leave your comments about the movie in the comments.