We’ve already got the villainess (Angelina Jolie), the young princess (Elle Fanning), her father (Sharlto Copley), and the three fairies (Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville, and Juno Temple), and now, at long last, we have the prince. Young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites has just boarded Robert Stromberg‘s Maleficent, a Sleeping Beauty retelling seen from the perspective of its big bad.

Thwaites is almost totally unknown in the U.S., though he’s a little more famous in his native country. He first broke out with a starring role in the Australian drama series SLiDE, and has since done a stint on the long-running soap Home and Away. (As have the likes of Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, and Chris Hemsworth before him.) He’ll next appear in the Lifetime Channel’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, but I’m betting that the Maleficent casting means this kid will be attracting some much higher-caliber projects soon. [Deadline]

After the jump, Olivia Wilde teams up with Spike Jonze.

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Briefly: There has been a change to the untitled new film that Spike Jonze is putting together. For his first feature since Where the Wild Things Are, Jonze wrote a script about a man (Joaquin Phoenix, presumably) who falls in love with the voice of a computer. Think of someone getting a bit too attached to Siri on the iPhone. Amy Adams and Samantha Morton are in the movie, and Carey Mulligan had planned to play a role as well.

Now Mulligan has had to back out, reportedly due to scheduling issues, and Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) will take her place. Mara would lock the cast, and this would turn into the project she shoots after Steven Soderbergh’s The Bitter Pill, in which she plays the lead role. She’s also got a part in Terrence Malick’s untitled new movie, formerly called Lawless, opposite Ryan Gosling. Carey Mulligan, meanwhile, has got the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby this year, so she’s in a good place. [Variety]

One of the last two films Steven Soderbergh plans to shoot before retiring from directing is The Bitter Pill, a thriller scripted by Scott Z. Burns (The Informant!, Contagion) that follows a troubled and highly medicated woman (Rooney Mara) who is dealing with her anxiety pending the release of her husband (Channing Tatum) from prison.

The promising actress Vinessa Shaw (Two Lovers, pictured above, and 3:10 to Yuma) is now set to play the wife of one of Mara’s doctors, who will be portrayed by Jude Law. After The Bitter Pill, Soderbergh will move on to his Liberace biopic for HBO, and then he’s done. (So he says.) [Deadline]

After the break, Ray Liotta lives with chemistry and Stanley Tucci joins two Harry Potter veterans. Read More »

After taking a hiatus for the birth of her son, Natalie Portman is gearing up to get back to work. Portman, who won Best Actress at last year’s Academy Awards, has found her first post-Oscar roles in two upcoming Terrence Malick films, Knight of Cups and Lawless. Details on the two films are still scarce, but given the combination of Malick, Portman, and her co-stars on the two projects, I’m pretty excited all the same. More details after the jump.

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Steven Soderberg is prepping a movie called Side Effects, a film that he plans to shoot this spring and which will be one of his last two movies. The project ran into a snag recently when financier Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures started to pull away. Part of the problem with the deal was reportedly the fact that Soderbergh wanted to cast Blake Lively in the lead female role. He was trying to push forward with that idea, but was willing to go with someone else if that casting proved problematic with other financiers.

We might assume that it did, because Lively’s role has now been given to Rooney Mara, star of David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Read More »

Over the last couple weeks, one studio announcement has been conspicuously absent.

With the launch of most major film franchises — that is, the opening of a film that is envisioned as a gateway to more of the same — it doesn’t take long at all for studios to greenlight the second entry. With films based on existing properties like comic books, that announcement can come before even the end of the first film’s opening weekend. Studio accounting, shady as it is, has been refined to a science, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday numbers are often all that it takes when the time comes to pull the trigger on a sequel, or to put the gun against the temple of the young franchise.

So where’s the press release announcing that David Fincher will direct The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire for Sony/Columbia? It hasn’t hit yet. But Sony says the film is still in development and that it will get made. We’ve known that Steven Zaillian is busy on the screenplay, and there has been vague talk of shooting the second and third films back to back. But will David Fincher direct? Read More »

Awards and top ten lists and all of that be damned: months after its release people are still talking about Terrence Malick‘s The Tree of Life, and with good reason. Dispute the effectiveness of the bookending Sean Penn sequences, sure, but the core of the movie is a powerful family story that works precisely because of Malick’s characteristic approach.

The film has that small, solid family center, but also has much bigger things at the fringes, and recently released storyboards clue us in to plans that would have put another layer of narrative into The Tree of Life. The boards show a sequence featuring Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel — a story that could have either provided more thematic weight for the film, or bogged it down with a too-obvious layer of allegory. Likely the latter, given that the scenes didn’t end up in the film, and may not have even been shot.

Regardless, check out the boards below. Read More »

slashfilmcast550

In this episode, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar, Angie Han, and Adam Quigley discuss The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011). Do screenwriter Steven Zaillian and director David Fincher find something profound or interesting to add to the pulpy source material? Tune in to find out!

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Live broadcasts will resume in 2012.

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