The Casting Couch: October 25, 2006

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Zack Snyder is attached to direct an adaptation of Cobalt 60 for Universal Pictures. “Cobalt 60” is a cult comic taking place in a postapocalyptic world inhabited by mutants and fantastical creatures, the story follows the masked hero Cobalt 60, who embarks on a quest to avenge his parents, who were murdered by the evil Strontium 90. Snyder is the man behind the highly anticipated comicbook adaptation 300, which is adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Inkheart has gained four more actors as New Line has added Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, Rafi Gavron and Sienna Guillory to the cast. The family fantasy already stars Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent in a tale of a father who brings characters from books to life by reading stories aloud to his daughter. Mirren will portray the book collector Elinor Loredan while Serkis will play the villain Capricorn. Iain Softley is directing from David Lindsay-Abaire’s screenplay. Production begins next month in Italy and then shifts to London. [Variety]

Anthony Mackie is set to play Olympic track-and-field legend Jesse Owens in a currently untitled biopic to shoot next summer. James L. White wrote the script which follows Owens as he rose to international stardom at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where Adolf Hitler watched him win four gold medals. There is no word of a director. The film is eyeing a summer 2008 release. [Variety]

Sarah Jessica Parker has joined the cast of Smart People joining Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church, Ellen Page and Ashton Holmes for director Noam Murro. Parker is replacing Rachel Weisz in the role of a doctor who falls for a professor whose wife’s death has turned him into a bitter man. Shooting is set to begin on November 6. [Variety]

David Cunningham is set to direct The Dark is Rising for Walden Media and 20th Century Fox. The fantasy film is part of a five-book series by Susan Cooper, “The Dark Is Rising” focuses on a youth who discovers at age 11 that he’s a Sign Seeker, last of a group of immortals dedicated to fighting a growing presence of dark forces. He comes to the realization that he’s charged with saving the world. Cunningham is already in Romania prepping for an early 2007 shoot and a September 28, 2007 release. The script was written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who is rewriting the Jawbreaker script for Oliver Stone, a film about the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan and hunt for Osama bin Laden. [Variety]

Peter Sarsgaard is set to join his brother-in-law Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon in the political thriller Rendition for Gavin Hood. The pic is a multilayered story centered on a CIA analyst, based in the Middle East, whose world spins out of control as he questions his assignment after overseeing the secret-police interrogation of a suspected terrorist. [Variety]

Thomas Carter is set to odirect an untitled feature about Jackie Robinson. Robert Redford is set to play Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in the feature that chronicles the breaking of baseball’s color barrier. Story will track Robinsons upbringing in Southern California and center on the relationship between Robinson and Rickey. Robinson started for the Dodgers in 1947, enduring death threats, beanballs, abuse from fans, a rebellion by some of his teammates and the threat of a strike by the St. Louis Cardinals. Filming is expected to get underway around March. [Production Weekly]

Roger Donaldson is set to direct the thriller Baker Street starring Jason Statham. The pic is based on the true story of the now legendary 1971 Baker Street bank robbery, this is a story which has remained untold for over 35 years due to a government gagging order. Baker Street tells how one of the biggest robberies in British history took place with no arrests ever made, nor money ever recovered. It also tells the story of a vault full of secrets, the scandals that unfurled and the lives lost in the pursuit for the truth to stay ‘hidden’. Filming is scheduled to begin early next year in the United Kingdom. [Production Weekly]

Finally, we learn that Kim Basinger is set to star in the While She Was Out for director Susan Montford. The thriller is said to be in the same vein as Deliverance and Dead Calm as Basinger will play a typical suburban housewife forced to fend for herself when she becomes stranded in a desolate forest with four murderous thugs. What starts off as a quick trip to the mall ends in the woods with a fight for her life. All she has is a toolbox and her will to survive. Filming begins in January. [Production Weekly]

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