Tagged: movie casting

Cobie Smulders is joining “The Avengers”

Cobie Smulders, the least-famous of the five actors on “How I Met Your Mother,” is set to join Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers.” She will essentially be Samuel L. Jackson’s sidekick in this film and multiple other Marvel films, something Jackson let slip on Jimmy Fallon’s show last week.

Hey, I’m all for Smulders becoming more famous. For one thing, check out that name: Cobie Smulders. She’s also an incredibly game and charming performer on “HIMYM,” and no matter how grating the show became at times, her character never became unlikable. At least some of that is because of her zeal and likability as a performer. But she has lagged in fame behind her costars Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and even Josh Radnor (who wrote and directed his own movie). I’m still bewildered the show has been on for six seasons and she hasn’t gotten more roles in mainstream films. Becoming a token female character in “The Avengers” isn’t a huge step forward, but it’s something, and it can only raise her profile for the future.

She joins Scarlett Johansson as one of two women in a cast that already includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg. Smulders beat out several other young actresses, including Morena Baccarin, who will star on “V” until it is canceled later this spring and before that starred on Whedon’s “Firefly.”

Why foreign-born actors are getting the prime American comic book movie roles

Actors born or raised outside of the United States seem to be getting cast in seemingly every iconic American superhero role nowadays. Henry Cavill as Superman just joined Christian Bale’s Batman and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man to make it a trifecta: three actors born or raised in the U.K. are suiting up as the three most iconic American superheroes in movies due out next year. And because this happened three times, it is immediately a trend and you will hear about it roughly 12,000 times over the next 22 months.

It’s even happening with lesser superheroes, as non-stateside actors are also netting those roles: Canadian Ryan Reynolds and Aussie Chris Hemsworth will play the Green Lantern and Thor this summer. So Vulture spoke to some agents and casting directors, and they said it’s because American actors aren’t “manly” enough.

While this sounds nice in theory, it’s pretty specious reasoning. For one thing, have you looked at Andrew Garfield? Nobody saw the guy in “The Social Network” and left the theater thing, “Man, that Andrew Garfield could certainly handle himself in a fight.” He looks like 83 percent of his body weight is in his hair. For another thing, the biggest actor in the world right now is Philadelphia native Will Smith. The guy (believably) played Muhammad Ali. I don’t think anyone is questioning his manliness; ditto Brad Pitt and George Clooney and Matt Damon (who I’m pretty sure learned on the “Bourne” set how to beat you to death with a rolled-up magazine, and not one of those special issues of Vanity Fair, I’m talking a Time-sized mag).

The first casting director quoted in the story specifically cites American actors in their 20s and 30s like Jesse Eisenberg. Okay, that’s a fair point. Many from the up-and-coming crop of young actors nowadays look pretty boyish; Eisenberg, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Garrett Hedlund (“Tron: Legacy”) and the amoebic Shia LaBeouf all look young. That’s because they are young. Not all young men look inherently manly, and not all guys look more manly or tough as they age; I speak from experience on this, because no matter how hard I try I’m probably never going to grow a mustache.

The first casting director quoted (who worked on “The Dark Knight” and is doing its sequel) does make an excellent point when he says that it’s not that American actors can’t act manly, it’s that manly-seeming kids in this country are often steered towards athletics and derided if they want to play football and act in the school play. That’s not the case in the U.K., he says. So if it’s a cultural thing that is causing manly young men like Cavill, Hemsworth, the late Heath Ledger and “Avatar” star Sam Worthington from other countries to give acting a go, that makes sense. But the States are still churning out the occasional young man with grit and hustling them into the pictures, like “Star Trek” star Chris Pine, Honolulu-born Jason Momoa (starring in the upcoming “Conan the Barbarian” remake, so he’s an odd addition to this list, but hey, it counts) and Chris Evans (the star of this summer’s “Captain America”). And other countries are still producing male actors who aren’t exactly paragons of manliness, like Garfield, Orlando Bloom, Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson. (Let me put it to you this way: If some of those four franchise stalwarts were put into a fight against young American would-be franchise anchors like Evans, Garrett Hedlund and Chris Pine, would you immediately take the Brits?)

I’d also note that complaints about this casting seem decidedly one-sided. Hugh Jackman, an Australian, has played the most famous Canadian superhero ever in four movies now. James Bond is currently played by a guy born in Cheshire, while the actor before him was Irish and the iconic first guy was Scottish. (Also, on a related note, you should watch this.) “The Adventures of Tintin” comics are huge in Europe, and less so here; but it’s an American director named Spielberg who is directing the first film. J.R.R. Tolkien was born in South Africa, and his epic Lord of the Rings books were set on Middle-Earth, yet why didn’t casting directors take the time to find Elvish actors to play those roles? Wait, hang on, I’m getting away from my point.

Oh, right: who cares? Did anybody out there think twice about seeing “The Dark Knight” because a Welshman and an Aussie were playing Batman and the Joker? Of course not, because it doesn’t matter where someone was born in order to pretend to fight crime dressed as a giant bat. Ditto Superman. It’s nice that Superman is an American creation, and that he fights/fought for Truth, Justice and the Amurrican Way (it remains to be seen if the line survives into the upcoming reboot). A guy born on the Channel Islands is just as capable of pretending he can fly and shoot laser beams out of his eyes as a guy who literally grew up in Kansas.

It could be that American icons like these have long been international properties, and the casting is just catching up to it. (After all, Christopher Nolan was born in London, “Thor” director Kenneth Branagh is terribly British and Martin Campbell, director of “Green Lantern,” was born in New Zealand.) It could be that audiences are increasingly drawn to representations of a globalized world, or some nonsense like that. Or it could be that the manly American stars like Will Smith and the like are too big and too expensive to make comic book movies, which is why comic book movies often cast young and cheap quantities. There’s also the fact that many comic book movie storylines require people who aren’t physically imposing (like Hulk, Iron Man and Spider-Man).

Or, and this is just a theory: It could just be a combination of factors like right time, right age, right place and right price. That seems the likeliest explanation. It’s not so much that these dang foreigners done took our jebs, nor that they are the dream guys for any of these roles (I mean, look at Jon Hamm’s chin, the guy was born to be Superman). These are the guys available when they were casting the movies. A lot of this is just a weird coincidence of timing, and it becomes even more obvious because all three characters (Spider-Man, Batman and Superman) have movies coming out next year (for the time being; the Superman movie could still get bumped to the following summer, which wouldn’t surprise me). Dressing it up as a trend because these are the three superhero icons of page and screen is interesting, but it’s not really indicative of any actual trend.

Henry Cavill is Superman

Ladies and gents, we have a Superman. Henry Cavill will play the Man of Steel in the upcoming (and as-yet-untitled) “Superman” film directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan.

My first and only memory of Cavill was his role in 2002’s “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Though just 18, he was decent as the son of Dantès and Mercedes. The British actor is largely known these days for “The Tudors” or to any “Stardust” fanatics out there. Really, Cavill’s biggest claim to fame until this point was a succession of near-misses: The guy was up for the last “Superman” reboot before Bryan Singer came on board and made “Superman Returns,” he was considered for “Casino Royale” before Daniel Craig was cast and he one of the guys Christian Bale beat to get “Batman Begins.” In other words, he’s always been the guy who almost was.

Who did Cavill beat to get the role? Heat Vision says his closest competition was Matthew Goode, who costarred in Snyder’s “Watchmen.” Goode even reportedly backed out of consideration for the title role in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” to stay open for this movie. The other actors considered largely fit what we’ve heard before: Matthew Bomer (also an also-ran who was nearly Superman the last time around), Armie Hammer (the Winklevii in “The Social Network”), Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”) and Colin O’Donaghue (who just costarred in “The Rite”).

An interesting aside to this news: Cavill is the first foreign-born actor to play Clark Kent. Actors born or raised in England now portray Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, the exalted trinity of American superheroes.

It’s hard to have a concrete take on this casting news one way or the other. Cavill has worked for years, but it’s very hard to look at an actor’s past performances and determine if they will be a great Spider-Man or Catwoman. Every Superman prior to this point has been largely unknown (whereas Bale and all of his predecessors in the cowl were established pre-“Batman”). Frankly speaking, the character is pretty damn boring. There’s a reason he’s called the Big Blue Boy Scout. Whereas Batman is all pent-up insanity, and Spider-Man is all neurotic, woe-is-me guilt, Superman is just a dull dullard who Does The Right Thing. I don’t know what is in the script or how much they try and give Clark Kent some layers, so perhaps Cavill winds up giving surprising depth to a new take on the character.

A word of caution about the movie, currently scheduled to come out in December 2012. Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. auditioned actors late last year, and Cavill met Snyder face-to-face for the first time earlier this month when the actor was invited back. The final casting decision was only made last week. There was a report last October when Snyder was hired that they picked him because they needed somebody who could quickly churn out the movie despite a rushed and iffy script. Remember, Warner Bros. has to get a new “Superman” in production this year as part of the lawsuit filed by the heirs to Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. All of that suggests that they are rushing this thing. That doesn’t mean Cavill will be bad, nor does it mean the movie will be a mess; it just means we should temper our expectations with the knowledge that this thing might not be finely-tuned when it flies into theaters.

“The Dark Knight Rises” circles some actresses for the two female leads

“The Dark Knight Rises” is inching closer to casting its female leads. According to some wildly differing reports yesterday, Christopher Nolan is either (A) screen testing actresses in the very near future for his third “Batman” movie or (B) has already cast them.

First, from the Hollywood Reporter‘s reliable Heat Vision blog: Over the next two weeks, Nolan is expected to test Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Kate Mara and Charlotte Riley.

Knightley, Hathaway and Biel are all already pretty famous (and Hathaway was thisclose to being in Sam Raimi’s aborted “Spider-Man 4”). Mara has had some small roles in “Brokeback Mountain,” “Shooter,” “Iron Man 2” and “127 Hours,” while her sister Rooney has the lead in “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” (Also, her family owns the New York Giants, so that might sway your opinion of her positively or negatively.) Riley is a wild card, as the British actress is mostly known for her turn in “Wuthering Heights” last year — where she acted opposite her fiancée, Tom Hardy, who has already signed on as one of the villains in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Gemma Arteron (“Clash of the Titans,” “Prince of Persia”) is supposed to test, but was just cast in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” That might keep her out of this movie, because “Hansel and Gretel” starts filming in March and “Rises” starts shooting in May.

Remember, this movie has two female leads to fill, so it won’t be just one actress getting hired. Heat Vision also again reports that one of the two female leads is a villain and the other is a love interest. Interestingly, they say that one of the roles is Talia — as in Talia Al Ghul, who is the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul (played by Liam Neeson in “Batman Begins”) and in the comic books was both a love interest and a villain.

So that’s from Heat Vision. We also have this report from Collider, which reports that the casting is already done, and claims to know both of the roles. They cite a source on this, and also note Nolan’s fetish for secrecy, so it’s entirely possible this is bogus. But: They are reporting that Eva Green and Naomi Watts have been cast, and they will be playing Talia Al Ghul and Vicky Vale, respectively. (Vale, remember, was the character played by Kim Basinger in Tim Burton’s first “Batman.”)

Collider does note the Heat Vision report and say it’s possible Green and Watts haven’t been cast, but they do stand by the inclusion of the Talia Al Ghul character in the film. As Heat Vision says, though, Watts can’t meet right now because she’s shooting a movie in Thailand (which would be done in time for her to make this movie, if she were cast), while Green has an Al Pacino movie filming beginning in April (which would mean she probably couldn’t make “Rises”).

The Collider report also has some information about a new Batmobile, costume and Batcave in the new film, though again, grain of salt, et cetera, et cetera.

WHEW. So. Who would be good? Honestly, any of these people. Who cares? Unless you have a knee-jerk aversion to one of them, it’s hard to argue that, you know, Biel or Hathaway or Mara or somebody would be an affront to the franchise (need I remind you that “Batman Begins” had Katie Holmes in it?).

I will say this: The biggest weaknesses of “Batman Begins” were Holmes and the third act structure. Both of those problems were fixed in “The Dark Knight,” particularly with Maggie Gyllenhaal. I know some folks aren’t a fan, for whatever reason, but it was very telling that Nolan went out and got a capital-A Actor for the movie’s love interest when he had the chance to recast it. He did much the same casting villains in his first and second movies. Holmes excepted, Nolan has a rather good eye for casting. Whether he goes with the established quantity of Hathaway or the less-known Riley, all that matters is that Christian Bale improves his Bat-voice this time around.

Anyway, we’re probably going to end up with Taylor Lautner cast in both roles, so it really doesn’t even matter.

PICTURED: None of these folks.

Daniel Day-Lewis will be Spielberg’s Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating Lincoln movie has found its Abraham: Daniel Day-Lewis, rightly regarded as the greatest living actor. That’s a hell of a casting choice right there. Day-Lewis is obviously, and famously, choosy when it comes to his projects; after “The Boxier” in 1997, he was off the big screen until 2002’s “Gangs of New York,” after which he didn’t make a major movie until 2007’s “There Will Be Blood” (no, I don’t count “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” as a major movie for him). And since we can all forget “Nine” happened last year, we can pretend that this movie continues his streak, since it will come out in 2012.

Liam Neeson had long been linked to the role of our 16th president, and while he has the physical build and look to pull it off, he has never seemed as comfortable with an American accent. Daniel Day-Lewis could play a lamp and I have faith he’d show up on set packed with wires and with his head replaced with a bulb. (The dude’s good, what else can be said? Also, this.) Tony Kushner is scripting this movie, and it officially jumps to the top of every super-duper-early short list for the Academy Awards in 2013.

Weirdly, new “Superman” movie will feature a white male in the usual age range

BREAKING NEWS: Producers of new “Superman” movie considering white, male actors in their late 20s or early 30s. In a shocking twist, Warner Bros. is “open to creating a star” (i.e. hire a non-famous person), and in a bit of news that is completely unrelated, they’re going to hire the new guy “on the cheap” (i.e. he will not make much money, like a famous person would). And in a development so absurdly unexpected I literally fainted reading it and twice fainted composing this sentence, they are going to look at hundreds of actors, which is just a bewildering action for people in charge of a film series that could be worth billions. [Deadline]

Now George Clooney might join Soderbergh for “U.N.C.L.E.”

Well, this just keeps getting weirder: “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” seems an unlikely adaptation for Steven Soderbergh to make, but the guy’s eclectic, so who knows. But now George Clooney might join him as the film’s star. This would be their seventh collaboration as director and star, and potentially final, if the prolific Soderbergh actually goes through with his retirement wishes. The Playlist also has some other interesting tidbits about the film, and I’m not going to be a jerk and list them all and keep you from heading over there, but it all makes me think that hey, if they toss out the comic “Let’s adapt ‘Get Smart'” version I presume they wrote up for David Dobkin, maybe there’s something here. Still! Strange. [Earlier]

Carey Mulligan will be Daisy Buchanan if “The Great Gatsby” is ever made

Baz Luhrmann has selected Carey Mulligan from a crop of Every Actress Considered For Every Major Role to be his Daisy Buchanan. She’d star opposite Leo (as Jay Gatsby) and Tobey Maguire (as Nick Carraway). He even took a picture of her during her audition. So should we get amped up to see another cinematic adaptation of a literary classic? Well, Luhrmann isn’t willing to say if it’ll actually be his next film or not. Still! Casting news! For a major part in a major film based on a major work! If it actually happens, it’ll really be something, maybe. [Deadline]

Emma Stone joins “Spider-Man” reboot (get excited, this post has a twist relating to hair color!)

Emma Stone, the rising star who was charming in “Superbad” and “Zombieland” and now has her very own hit (“Easy A”) in theaters, has been cast in the “Spider-Man” reboot. As has been rumored for days now, she’s been closing in on the female lead in this movie, which everybody assumed was Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst’s role in the original trilogy). You know, because she’s a famous redhead.

But Sony pulled a fast one on us, and cast Stone as Gwen Stacy, the famously doomed (uh, spoiler alert?) blonde first love of Peter Parker. Humorously, the press release notes that Stone is actually a natural blonde (like Sofia Vergara — I guess blonde is on its way out in Hollywood?). So will she return to her natural color for the movie? Or will Mia Wasikowska (or whomever) stay blonde as Mary Jane, completely flip-flopping the mythos and driving comic book fans nuts? Eh, who cares. The point is, a charming and immensely likable actress has been hired!