eric bana

Here’s a good reminder that Jim Sheridan and Rooney Mara are planning to collaborate: Variety report that Eric Bana, Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction), and Theo James (Divergent) will join the director-actress pairing — as well as Jeremy Irons and Vanessa Redgrave — in The Secret Scripture. Based on Sebastian Barry‘s novel, penned by Johnny Ferguson, and set in a mental asylum, it sees the Dragon Tattoo actress portray Roseanne McNulty, who reflects upon her younger days while secured in a mental institution; Redgrave will play an older, locked-up iteration of this character.

Further down the casting line, Bana‘s character works into the plot as “a rebellious doctor who is responsible for reviewing Roseanne’s case,” while James and Reynor are, respectively, a local priest and Roseanne’s love interest.

casey affleckThere’s a casting bit concerning the great Casey Affleck, who Deadline tell us has begun circling The Finest Hours. Standing tall after the Earth-shattering success that was Million Dollar Arm, Craig Gillespie will direct this based-on-true-events story — written by Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy (The Fighter), as based on the book by Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias — wherein the Coast Guard saved 84 men stranded off Cape Cod when “two oil tankers collided and were torn in half by waves during a fierce blizzard.” Chris Pine is already secured for a leading role, and we can presume that Affleck‘s involvement will, too, be large.

Tim Van Patten had been tapped for the project in September of 2012; that, obviously, has not worked out.

Dakota-Fanning-New-York-Fashion-Week-2014Now, another bit concerning American Pastoral, which had very recently joined Jennifer Connelly with Ewan McGregor. This latest update fills in one of the film’s most crucial roles, with Dakota Fanning having come aboard to play Merry Levov, a young, over-eager anti-Vietnam protestor whose act of political terrorism forever traumatizes her parents, Seymour and Dawn. [Variety]

Her part, as written in Philip Roth‘s Pulitzer-winning masterpiece, is something of a phantom — never actually seen in the present tense, yet hovering over nearly every page. It also calls for at least two physical transformations, but I suspect they’ll curb that in favor of “straighter” drama, which is itself an assumption rooted in my own cynicism as to how this will turn out. The project, regardless, is happening, with Philip Noyce directing for Lakeshore Entertainment; production is scheduled to start in March.

lee paceDeadline have learned that Lee Pace (The Hobbit 1 – 22, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Bérénice Marlohe (Skyfall) are being paired for Prisoner of War, respectively playing “an American soldier and a French foreign aid worker who team up in Africa amid humankind’s last stand against a cataclysmic alien invasion.”

Joe Miale is making his feature debut on the title, which has been co-written by himself and Rowan Athale. Several companies are producing the picture — Tea Shop & Film Company, Voltage, Automatik, and 42 — and cameras are expected to roll this September.

Finally, word has it that Nicole Kidman‘s Blossom Films and Reese Witherspoon‘s Pacific Standard secured rights to Big Little Lies, a bestselling book they’re shaping as a star vehicle. Liane Moriarty‘s text concerns Madeline, Celeste, and Jane, the parents of three kindergarten-age children — and who, as these stories so often dictate, are living troubled lives underneath the posh exterior required of them. [Deadline]

Which of these projects are you anticipating most strongly? Do the names encourage interest?

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