Pearce for ‘Prometheus,’ Hemsworth Eyes ‘Huntsman’ and Levinson Tackles ‘Gotti’

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After flexing his box-office muscle in Fast Five, Dwayne Johnson will finally get the chance to show off his dramatic chops in a biopic of legendary black country musician Charley Pride, according to The Playlist. The project was initially set to reunite Terrence Howard with his Hustle & Flow director Craig Brewer before it fell to the wayside, though the attachment of The Rock now has the film back on track. The singer’s story is an interesting one, featuring a professional baseball career being interrupted by a stint in the army and of course the racial issues that came with performing in a genre dominated by white performers. I’ve been waiting for Johnson to take on a serious role like this for quite some time so I can’t wait to see what he does with it. It’s nice to seem him taking risks apart from the ass-kicker and family-friendly roles his career has been confined to.

Variety reports Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Bugsy) has entered negotiations to replace Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) as helmer of the John Travolta and Joe Pesci-led mob drama Gotti: Three Generations. Travolta is set to play John Gotti Sr. and Pesci will co-star as Gotti deputy Angelo Ruggiera in the film, which examines the relationship between Gotti Sr. and his son. Lindsay Lohan has also signed on to play the wife of Gotti Jr. Another proposed Levinson project includes a political thriller about the Oklahoma City bombing titled O.K.C., while his completed Lionsgate thriller The Bay awaits its release. Can Levinson recapture the mob movie magic from Bugsy some 20 years ago?

The Farrelly Brothers are verging on a deal for Larry David to join the cast of The Three Stooges. Deadline reports he’d play Mother Mengele, the unfortunate nun who runs the orphanage where the Stooges grow up and begin their mischievous ways. Another recent casting on the film that I don’t think we’ve mentioned yet is that of Jane Lynch as Mother Superior. Yep, the Farrellys have definitely gone TV-heavy on the casting for this one.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor) appears to be next in line for the role no one else in Hollywood wants, that of the titular Huntsman in Snow White and the Huntsman. Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Hugh Jackman and Joel Edgerton are just a few of the names that have previously been targeted for the role, but Deadline reports Hemsworth now tops Universal’s wish list. Every other decently built actor between the ages of 20 and 55 now waits in the wings.

Nicolas Winding Refn has apparently never heard a story that he didn’t want to film and continues to stockpile projects like the Phillies do starting pitchers. Variety reports his latest proposition is to write, direct and produce a Bangkok-set Western called Only God Forgives, which sees a Thai police lieutenant and a gangster settling their differences in a Thai-boxing match. The Bronson helmer has the thriller Drive premiering at Cannes in a few weeks, and also has lined up a Logan’s Run remake with Ryan Gosling, the Keanu Reeves-starrer Jekyll and the Paul Schrader-scripted CIA drama The Dying of the Light. It hasn’t been announced which project he’ll tackle first, but someone has to fill that proficiency void created by Steven Soderbergh’s retirement, right?

It’s a good time to be Bryan Cranston, as the “Breaking Bad” Emmy-winner continues to line up major film roles. After appearing in the aforementioned Drive, Tom Hanks’ Larry Crowne, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and as the lead villain in Total Recall (just to name a few), he will also star in the big screen adaptation of Rock of Ages. Deadline reports he’ll portray the rock-hating mayor and husband of the character played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, a villain role created specifically for the movie.

The Playlist has confirmed that Guy Pearce has joined Ridley Scott’s now-in-production sci-fi feature Prometheus. Plot details are still being kept under wraps, but the project is supposedly an indirect prequel of sorts to Alien with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba leading the impressive ensemble cast. The film will see release on June 8, 2012.

Ben Kingsley has joined Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno) in The Dictator, the Saddam Hussein-inspired comedy about a heroic dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppressed. Kingsley will play one of two key Middle Eastern characters, with Jason Montzoukas (“The League”) in talks for the other. Variety also notes Kristin Wiig and Gillian Jacobs (“Community”) as being in the running for the improv-heavy female lead as a supermarket worker, though Deadline reported last night the role has been offered to Anna Faris.

And finally, it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger has chosen the drama Cry Macho for his big screen return, with Vulture reporting the film could shoot as early as this summer. Based on the 1975 N. Richard Nash novel, the film follows a damaged-goods horse trainer (Arnie) who agrees to kidnap his boss’s 11-year-old son from his ex-wife in exchange for some retirement money. Schwarzenegger was actually attached to the script almost a decade ago before his political endeavors put things on hold, with Clint Eastwood briefly considered to take his place. Producer Al Ruddy (The Godfather, Million Dollar Baby) will head to Cannes to seek financing for director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer).