Anyone who knows Terrence Malick knows that he takes a long time to get films made, which makes the prospect of his sixth film — described as a romantic drama — coming out a year after the fifth, The Tree of Life, so mind-boggling. There was then a rumor that his seventh feature could begin shooting this year; as much as I wanted this to be true, being aware of his filmmaking speed made it seem like an impossibility.

It turns out that this speculation wasn’t completely off-base, as Twitch has learned that Christian Bale will be starring in this untitled film, which is expected to begin shooting in early 2012 — the same year that the aforementioned romantic drama is apparently coming out. There’s the mention that this casting could be for The Voyage of Time, his documentary on the creation of the universe that’s been developing for years, but ThePlaylist noticed in a Deadline article that Emma Thompson will be one of the narrators on that project — this kind of openness means there’s no reason Bale‘s name wouldn’t also be mentioned at this point.

The actor and director already worked together on The New World several years ago, and Bale was even going to star in his next film before Ben Affleck took over; the two certainly have a history. This casting has really kickstarted news on the seventh feature, which was nothing more than a rumor until now. The sources who told Twitch the news claim that it’s a small drama, one with a plot “driven by a pair of dominant leads, one male and one female.”

The female is being cast right now, and this is a process that has Malick choosing from four actresses: Rooney Mara, Haley Bennet, Clemence Poesy, and Mia Wasikowska. We don’t know if they’ve auditioned, met with the director, or will be offered the part that they’re being considered for, but their names are being brought up. No matter what, though, it’s hard to imagine that any of them would turn down the opportunity to star here; the prestige and — excuse me if this sounds pretentious — honor of being in a Terrence Malick movie is a hard thing to pass on.

As someone who loves Malick, considers The Tree of Life to be their favorite film of 2011, and is also a massive fan of Christan Bale, this news has me completely ecstatic. Recent honors from groups like FIPRESCI mean that Malick could be on his way to another Oscar nomination, possibly even a win, which should only increase the amount of attention paid to whatever he does next. But we were already going to follow this thing left and right, anyway.

Are you excited about Bale starring in Malick’s next? What do you think of the filmmaker’s past work?

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