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Terrence Malick‘s movies often aren’t about who is cast, but who makes the final cut. That’s nothing new for the director, but with him out shooting more film more often, and doing so in easy range of photographers, we’re getting to see more of his process than ever.

The latest set pics from Malick’s new film (formerly called Lawless, and currently untitled) feature Natalie Portman, blonde and looking every inch the Texas bar girl. There are shots of her with newly revealed co-stars Michael Fassbender and Holly Hunter, too. Will any of this stuff be in the final film? Your guess is as good as ours. Read More »

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Having tackled racism in Civil Rights-era Mississippi with the help of Emma Stone in last summer’s The Help, Viola Davis is now taking on the modern public education crisis with the aid of Maggie Gyllenhaal in Won’t Back Down.

Directed by Daniel Barnz (Beastly) from a script he co-wrote with Brin Hill, the apparently fact-based drama stars Gyllenhaal and Davis as a pair of determined mothers who team up to establish a charter school for struggling children in their Pittsburgh neighborhood. Oscar Isaac co-stars as a ukelele-strumming teacher who takes a romantic interest in Gyllenhaal, because he’s in everything these days. Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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There’s still no word on who’ll be playing Éponine in Tom Hooper‘s Les Misérables, but the project has landed yet another well-known star to play her father. According to LondonNetSacha Baron Cohen is set to join Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Eddie Redmayne in the musical, in the role of the villainous inn owner Monsieur Thénardier. Helena Bonham Carter was said to be in talks to play Thénardier’s wife earlier this year, but it’s not clear whether she’s actually attached at this point.

Cohen did a bit of singing in his last big-screen musical, Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and is slated to do still more as the lead of that Freddie Mercury biopic from producer Graham King. In terms of non-singing roles, Cohen recently appeared in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, and already has three more movies scheduled to open next year — The Dictator, Madagascar 3, and Django Unchained. Get used to that face, because you’ll be seeing a lot of it in 2012.

Les Misérables opens December 7, 2012. [via The Playlist]

After the jump, a Disney gal decides it’s time to break into more mature territory, and Diablo Cody’s next project finds a mom for Julianne Hough.

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As Garrett Hedlund continues his negotiations over the lead role of Kaneda in Warner Bros.’ Akira remake, the studio and director Jaume Collet-Serra are wasting no time filling in the other roles as well. Buried in one report about Hedlund starring in the film was a tidbit about Keira Knightley being approached for the project. Though her possible role has not been revealed, I’m guessing she’s up for the part of Kaneda’s love interest Kei, member of an underground rebel group.

Knightley’s involvement is far from a done deal at this point, as she’s yet to enter talks. Helena Bonham Carter and Gary Oldman, who were also given offers last month, apparently aren’t any farther along in the process either. Still, the fact that they’ve been approached at all suggests the filmmakers are hoping for a certain caliber of talent for the movie. (Not to mention a certain level of British-ness.) Knightley and Bonham Carter have both been nominated for Oscars in the past, and while Oldman has somehow escaped that honor, it’s not for lack of deserving. [The Hollywood Reporter via The Playlist]

After the jump, another potential project for Gary Oldman, while Jane Campion gets Holly Hunter, Elisabeth Moss, Peter Mullan, and David Wenham to sign on for her latest.

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Briefly: I get the idea that yet another version of Romeo and Juliet isn’t something that people are wildly keen to see, but that isn’t putting the brakes on the film that Carlo Carlei (Flight of the Innocent) will direct based on a script by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park).

The main reason to be interested in the movie, for me at least, is that it is looking like it will be the sophomore feature from True Grit breakout star Hailee Steinfeld. She’s playing Juliet, and Holly Hunter, Ed Westwick and Kodi Smit-McPhee are also set for roles. Now Douglas Booth (Pillars of the Earth, the upcoming Great Expectations) will be her Romeo. Variety says he took the job over hundreds of other young applicants, but again, I’m not convinced that this one really has much heat. Still, the cast is shaping up well and there are few pieces of more proven material. If Carlo Carlei can make it feel like a fresh telling, no matter what style he adopts, it might surpass expectations.

Great Hope Springs, the movie in which Meryl Streep plays one half of a married couple spending a week of marriage and sex therapy with a famous therapist (Steve Carell) has gone through a few possible male leads. Jeff Bridges was mentioned early on, and James Gandolfini looked like a possibility at one point. (Those were when Mike Nichols was going to direct, but now The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel will make the film instead.)

Tommy Lee Jones was next in the casting rumor series, but now he definitively has the gig playing husband to Meryl Streep. That’s a great pairing, and while the director may not be my top choice, I’m still as interested in watching these two actors trade barbs as I was when the idea first came up.

The synopsis for Great Hope Springs is after the break, along with news of new gigs for Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter. Read More »

Sorcerer's Apprentice Director Jon Turteltaub

On June 23rd 2010, I had an appointment to chat with Jon Turteltaub, director of the National Treasure films and Disney’s upcoming Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

I woke up early that morning, and headed down to the Apple Store at The Grove to pick up the new iPhone 4, which I had reserved. The plan was to crib for the interview while I was waiting a few hours in line to get the new phone. I had waited in line for the previous three iPhone launches at one of Apple’s flagship stores in the downtown San Francisco, I expected this to be quick and painless (or at least quicker and less painful than it ended up being). The few hours I had expected to wait in line quickly turned into multiples of that. And by the time my scheduled interview time approached, I found myself near the front of the line. I waited all day, and regretfully, I had to choose between calling it a total loss of my 10 hours and rush to the interview, or cancel the chat and get the iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, if I had known at the beginning of the day that I’d have to choose, I would have never gotten in line (actually, if I had known I was going to wait 11 hours in line, I would have never gotten in line…). I called Disney to see what I should do, and they told me I could probably reschedule the interview to another day and time, which was a big relief.

Thanks to the wonderful Disney publicists, I was able to get time with Jon on the phone the next week. By the time I talked with Jon, he had already done a week full of press, international, domestic and television. I decided the best approach was to ask him some questions, for the most part, out of the norm. The bad situation turned into to be the best possible result — I got to talk to Jon for over 30 minutes. For those of you who don’t know, a normal 1:1 interview lasts 10-15 minutes, resulting in a very fast pace as the interviewer is usually trying to cram all their questions in. The interview you are about to read after the jump has a much different pace (which is probably why Turteltaub allowed me to go over the scheduled fifteen minute time limit.

We talk about how Jon launched his career with Three Ninjas, Being pigeonholed as a kid movie director, How Phenomenon was originally supposed to star Harrison Ford and Holly Hunter, Becoming the “surprisingly good” director, Being a populist movie director who gets not-so-good reviews from critics/film snobs, the disappointments of National Treasure 2, the possibility of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice sequel, How he became involved in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Going to High School with Nicolas Cage and beating him out for the lead role in the school play, what it is like being a part of a “Jerry Bruckheimer production”, weaving science with magic, the choice to not film the movie in 3D, the choice not to post convert it to 3D, Balthazar’s Warehouse of Magical Artifacts, The Easter Eggs hidden in the movie, Where did the artifacts disappear to and the possibilities for a sequel, shooting the movie on location in New York City and shutting down traffic in Times Square for five nights, the troubles of trying to shoot a movie with “any kind of depth or any social relevance” (referring to the Greenpeace biopic he’s developing), Avatar, and more.

Read the full interview, after the jump.

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