It’s not that Sean Penn never takes roles in lightweight films, but his serious performances can be so commanding — to the point of overbearing, even — that his lighter work is easy to overlook. We once thought he would be among the new Three Stooges, and that didn’t happen. And, the lead in Milk aside (not a light film, but a radiant performance) it’s easy to overlook Penn’s roles in films like What Just Happened and This Must Be the Place.

Now Penn has a new comic role, and one that will probably generate more talk, as he’s in talks to play a supporting role in Ben Stiller‘s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Read More »

Now that Joel Kinnaman is locked for the lead role in José Padilha‘s Robocop reboot, MGM has started looking to fill out the rest of its cast — which of course means the rumor mill has begun churning in earnest. A new story has surfaced claiming that Edward Norton, Gael García Bernal, and Rebecca Hall are circling the project, and that producers are looking to get Sean Penn on board as well. If it’s true, Robocop could be pulling together a very promising cast. More after the jump.

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While half the talk that involves Kristen Wiig of late seems to revolve around whether or not she wants to do a sequel to Bridesmaids (she doesn’t) the actress is moving on to other stuff.

She has already shot Imogene and another indie called Revenge of the Jolly!, and now she’s looking at a role in Ben Stiller‘s remake of the classic comic fantasy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Read More »

I’m still not totally sure what to make of Paolo Sorrentino‘s This Must Be the Place, which has one of the more unusual premises I’ve heard in a while. Sean Penn stars as a retired rock star, still in eyeliner and lipstick, who takes up his recently deceased father’s quest to find and confront the man who tortured him at Auschwitz. The first photos we saw looked pretty strange, the last trailer was intriguing, and reviews from the film festival circuit so far have been mixed.

Now a new trailer has been released which covers much of the same ground as the previous one, but includes some new footage as well. I think Penn also sounds a tad more intelligible this time around, though perhaps I’m just getting used to his mumbling. Watch it after the jump.

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We’ve already had the chance to ooh and ahh over most of the Sundance Film Festival 2012 slate earlier this month, but with weeks to go until the festival four latecomers have just been announced. There are a few last-minute additions every year; last year’s included Miranda July’s The Future, while 2010’s included Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right.

This year, we have the intriguingly titled sci-fi John Dies at the End; This Must Be the Place, starring Sean Penn as an aging rock star; Jesse Eisenberg and Melissa Leo‘s new comedy Predisposed; and the Norwegian drama Oslo, August 31st. Read the descriptions after the jump.

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After quite a few set pictures showed up from the LA shoot of Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad, we’ve now got the first official promo photo for the film, showing Josh Brolin as an LA cop staring down Sean Penn as famed LA gangster Mickey Cohen. There’s not a lot to the pic — it’s two actors in era-appropriate suits with a lot of color correction — but their specific poses and positioning does tell us something about the characters, and the image looks good in general. See a full version below. Read More »

I’m kind of a sucker for movies about fading stars (Sunset Boulevard is one of my all-time favorites), so I’ve been curious to see Art Linson‘s script The Comedian make it to the screen. I first heard about it this spring, when Martin Scorsese was rumored to be directing with Robert De Niro in the lead, but that report’s turned out to be only half true. De Niro is indeed set to star in the film, but it’s Sean Penn who’ll be taking over behind the camera.

Additionally, the project has just seen the addition of Saturday Night Live veteran Kristen Wiig, in a rare (I’m assuming) dramatic role. More details after the jump.

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It feels like James Franco is attached to pretty much everything these days, but now there’s one less Franco project we have to look forward to. According to JustJared.com, the star has pulled out of The Iceman, a biopic of Mafia hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. Franco was lined up to play Robert “Mr. Softee” Pronge, the “mentor assassin” to Kuklinski (Michael Shannon); Ray Liotta and Maggie Gyllenhaal were also set to star in the picture, by director Ariel Vroman. However, with Franco gone, “it looks like this project might fall apart,” a source told the site.

Details of Franco’s exit have not been revealed, although the same source blames “key contractual issues that didn’t involve financial terms.” The rest of the cast sounds too interesting to waste, so I’m hoping the movie can still come together out even without Franco’s involvement. If not, well, there’s always The Ice Man, the competing project starring Mickey Rourke. [Cinema Blend]

After the jump, Franco’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes co-star Tom Felton gets to play a good guy for once, and Ruben Fleischer is still adding people to the cast of Gangster Squad.

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The theme of this Casting Bits seems to be “rising stars,” as All My Children‘s Ambyr Childers stakes out a spot in an all-star cast, War Horse star Jeremy Irvine leads a movie starring Britain’s finest, and Thor actress Jaimie Alexander signs on to co-star with the Governator himself. Read more after the jump.

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Nick Nolte Joins ‘Gangster Squad’

Briefly: Here’s one more reason to be excited about Ruben Fleischer‘s upcoming ’40s-set LA ‘cops vs. mobsters’ story Gangster Squad. Nick Nolte is taking a role in the film; he’ll be Bill Parker, “the new chief of police in Los Angeles,” and a Chief who isn’t in the pocket of big-time LA gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The character is a WWII vet and the guy who gives the gangster squad its mandate to bust Cohen and other organized crime goons.

Nolte joins a cast that also includes Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Mirielle Enos, Giovanni Ribisi, Holt McCallany, Robert Patrick, Frank Grillo and Sullivan Stapleton. I don’t know exactly what has Nick Nolte showing up all over the place lately, but I love it. He’s in the David Milch/Michael Mann HBO show Luck, as well as the upcoming films Warrior (pictured above), Parker and The Company You Keep. [Deadline]