Will Smith is set to star as The Last Pharaoh. No, not Cleopatra. That would be too accurate. Rather, he will play Taharqa, the Egyptian pharaoh who battles Assyrian invaders. Now, I really like Will Smith, I do. He's charismatic and fun to watch. But I don't like action-star Will Smith. I don't like that persona. He should demand to bring more drama to his action roles because I really loved him in I Am Legend (he broke my heart) and The Pursuit of Happyness. So I hope this movie is less 300 (90% visuals, 10% history -- although it was 98% historically accurate, the history took a backseat to the graphic-novel visualization) and more I Am Legend. Or even Independence Day. He was emotional and dramatic in that movie and I took him seriously.
Howl, an ensemble period movie about the banning and subsequent court trial of Allen Ginsberg's collection of poems (Howl) in 1956. James Franco will star as Ginsberg, and Mary-Louise Parker, Alan Alda, Jeff Daniels, David Straithairn, and Paul Rudd have also signed onto the cast. All will apparently play fictional of versions of real people. Parker, as a member of the prosecution, will play radio personality Gail Potter, and Daniels will play Prof. David Kirk. Staithairn adds to the prosecution as attorney Ralph McIntosh. Lovable Rudd will play literary critic Luther Nichols for the defense, and Alda will play Judge Clayton Horn.
In what may be the strangest pairing since Adam Sandler and Emily Watson in Punch-Drunk Love, Julie Andrews will be in a movie with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. They will star in Tooth Fairy about a minor league hockey player (Andrews -- no, just kidding, it's The Rock) who has a tendency to know out the teeth of his opponents. And then somehow, he's roped/punished into playing the role of the Tooth Fairy for a week, and Andrews plays a supervisor for the tooth fairies. (Apparently there are many of them.) The movie sounds horrible, but like Elisabeth Rappe at Cinematical, I also want to see " to see [Andrews] browbeat The Rock and force him into pink outfits." Plus, Stephen Merchant will play the Clarence Oddbody of tooth fairies. He's waiting for his wings and in the meantime must work as a case worker under Andrews. Stephen Merchant against Mary Poppins? That might be worth suffering through the silly plot.
In potential offensive casting news, Tom Cruise may star in a version of Douglas Preston's book The Monster of Florence (his company, United Artists, recently bought the rights) about Preston's real investigation into Italy's version of Jack the Ripper. Perhaps Cruise might star as the serial killer or as the protagonist. He could be Clarice or Hannibal. This is a Cruise rumor that I don't particularly like because whatever his next new project will be (after Valkyries) needs to be a starring vehicle to bring him into popular opinion with the public. And as far as I'm concerned, Tropic Thunder did not put him back in my good favor. And besides, why should Cruise get to run around Italy when I am much more deserving?
Edward Norton, everyone's favorite actor, is starring in Tim Blake Nelson's upcoming Leaves of Grass. Norton will play dual roles as twin brothers -- one is an Ivy League philosophy professor (sweet!), and the other is an intelligent marijuana grower. There's a drug scheme that unravels, entangling the two. It's billed as a "comedic thriller," which is interesting. Perhaps Marijuana-Ed is a slapstick character? And because Norton worked with Nelson before, I'm not too concerned that Norton will overthrow the director and re-edit the film to his liking (ahem, American History X).