I wouldn’t generally think of Vince Vaughn as the natural replacement for a role that Justin Timberlake had dropped out of, but then again, I’m not a professional casting director. Deadline reports that Vaughn has just signed on for Stephen FrearsLay the Favorite in the part of “Rosie, a Long Island bookie that [protagonist Beth] Raymer once worked for” — a role that Timberlake was attached to earlier this year. I don’t know much else about the character, but it’s easy to imagine Vaughn’s loud, charismatic, rather dickish persona being a perfect fit for a movie about Vegas gambling, don’t you think?

Based on Beth Raymer‘s memoir of the same title, Lay the Favorite follows Raymer in her journey from Vegas cocktail waitress to top professional gambler. As Raymer falls in love, she begins re-evaluating her life decisions. Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joshua Jackson, and Frank Grillo are also attached to star. [via The Playlist]

After the jump, Alec Baldwin and Rory Culkin sign on for Hick and The Hunger Games finds its District 9 tributes.

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‘A Bag of Hammers’ Trailer

South by Southwest is still going strong down in Austin, Texas and if you’re following along on Twitter, there are a ton of movies that should have hit your radar. Films like Kill List, The FP, Bridesmaids and Attack the Block just to name a few. Another one that seems to have people talking is A Bag of Hammers, one of those classic, festival ready indie comedies starring co-writer Jake Sandvig, Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall. Directed and co-written by Brian Crano, the film is about two immature friends whose lives are changed when an abandoned child enters their lives. Check out the trailer and more after the break. Read More »

Last time we heard about the film Blackbird, it was called Kin. That was when Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde were cast as “two desperate sibling fugitives (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) on the run who subsequently collide with the holiday homecoming of a troubled ex-boxer (Charlie Hunnam).” The film’s name has changed, but that cast remains the same.

Now Kate Mara and Treat Williams have taken roles, playing a father and daughter who factor into the story. Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson are also on board as the parents of Charlie Hunnam’s boxer. That’s a pretty cool parent pairing; in general this is shaping up with quite the strong cast. Stefan Ruzowitzky is directing from a script by Zach Dean, and the film shoots in March in Montreal. [Variety]

After the break, a shortlist for actresses that could end up in The Trade, the film about Yankee baseball players and wife-swapping that is being written by Ben and Casey Affleck. Read More »

Before poker became a part of my daily life, I’d always been infatuated with gambling movies. The first hour of Casino remains my favorite, I never believed it when Mel Gibson pulled a one outter at the end of Maverick, and The Sting fools me every time. Even newer, lesser movies like 21 or Lucky You pulled me into the theater and, of course, Rounders is like gospel. So, Lay the Favorite, based on the novel by Beth Raymer, sounds right up my alley. The story of a young Ohio girl who becomes professionally involved with underground sports betting will be, as had been previously announced, a reteaming of High Fidelity screenwriter D.V. DeVincentis and director Stephen Frears and now, it seems Rebecca Hall and Bruce Willis are close to landing as their leads. Read more after the break. Read More »

Rebecca Hall first hit the film scene less than five years ago, but she’s already built quite the career for herself, starring in films such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Prestige, Frost/Nixon, Please Give, and most recently The Town. Now she’s got another project lined up: Shadow Dancer, the latest film from Man on Wire director James Marsh. Learn more after the break. Read More »

As he’s been workshopping his script for The Great Gatsby, director Baz Luhrmann is still trying to find a woman to play Daisy in his new film version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The role was played by Rebecca Hall in that recent workshop, during which Leonardo DiCaprio played Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire read narrator and onlooker Nick Carraway.

But Rebecca Hall’s participation didn’t mean that she was cast (none of the actors are formally cast, in fact) and now there’s a report saying that the director is looking at a diverse lineup of actresses for the part, including Keira Knightley, Abbie Cornish and more in addition to Amanda Seyfried, who was the first actress said to be a real candidate. Read More »

We recently heard that Baz Luhrmann is thinking about directing one of two possible projects. One is a musical, and the other is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s classic novel The Great Gatsby. The latter has been rumored to star Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Amanda Seyfried, with Natalie Portman also discussed as an option for the female lead, but the decision between the two projects, Mr. Luhrmann said, would likely be made at the end of this month or into the middle of November.

Now, however, there’s a report that DiCaprio and Maguire have been quietly workshopping scenes from The Great Gatsby with the director in New York City, with Rebecca Hall reading the lead female role of Daisy Buchanan. Read More »

Gravity

After Angelina Jolie exited Alfonso Cuarón‘s 3D sci-fi thriller Gravity, the search for a replacement began. Last week, Latino Review learned that the producers behind the project were “interest[ed] in meeting Rachel Weisz for the role.” However, Deadline found out that Weisz was just one of the many names on the producer’s list of actresses they’ve talked to or screen tested: Sandra Bullock, Natalie Portman, Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Sienna Miller, Abbie Cornish, Rebecca Hall, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively.

Now Risky Business has learned that Natalie Portman has been offered the role, as the studio approved the actress without requiring a screen test in the wake of the early Black Swan reviews. According to the report, Portman is expected to read the latest version of the script this week and make her decision shortly.

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