Hollywood on the Hill Hollywood Casting News

As the American Film Market (AFM) was this past week and the holiday movie season begins soon, a lot of intriguing new projects are being put together in Hollywood. The twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall, began production on November 3 with Sam Mendes directing. While Mendes usually tends to di­rect dramas (American Beauty, Road to Perdi­tion, Jarhead), he is a fantastic auteur and will hopefully bounce the 007 series back after the terrible Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig is still set to star as James Bond and Dame Judi Dench will be reprising her role as M. Filling out the rest of the cast is Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) as the new villain and an ensemble that includes Ralph Fiennes (most moviegoers will know him as Voldemort), Naomie Harris, Albert Finney and Helen Mc­Crory. Skyfall has a $230-million dollar bud­get, which is the largest Bond budget ever. The film is set to release on November 9, 2012.

Quentin Tarantino, director of classics such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bills and Inglorious Basterds, has finished casting his new sure-to-be-classic, Django Unchained. The film is about a slave-turned-bounty hunter who teams up with a German bounty hunter and sets out to rescue his wife from the brutal Calvin Candie, a Mississippi plantation owner. Playing the liberated slave turned bounty hunter is Jamie Foxx and the German bounty hunter will be Christopher Waltz, who won an Oscar last time he teamed up with Tarantino. I would go see any film with these two in the leads, but the cast only gets better. Playing the evil slave plantation owner is none other than the best actor in Hollywood – Leonardo Dicaprio.

The rest of the cast is filled with stars such as Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, RZA, Kurt Russell and Kerry Washington. Coming out Christmas Day next year, the film is my early prediction for Best Picture at the 2012 Oscars. Early buzz is that the script is Tarantino’s best to date. Also, Tarantino is the best art-house film director in Hollywood and, with the previously mentioned cast, I am already counting down the days.

In other Hollywood news, Garrett Hed­lund (Tron: Legacy) has agreed to star in Akira, a remake of the 1988 Japanese animated clas­sic. Gary Oldman (Chief Gordon in the Bat­man films) and Helena Bonham Carter (every Tim Burton movie ever made) round out the cast. Nicolas Winding Refn, who recently won Best Director for his film Drive, has decided to re-team up with the hottest young actor in Hollywood – Ryan Gosling.

Their second project together will be the Thai-set western Only God Forgives. Refn described the film as “a fast, power­ful, high-profile, action and violent revenge story with Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, never seen before, as a merciless and terrifying mafia godmother.” If the film is as good as Drive, then look for it to debut in Cannes next summer.

Lastly, in a surprising move, Twilight star and teenage heartthrob Taylor Lautner has agreed to star in indie director Gus Van Sant’s new film. This is an interesting move for Laut­ner, but one that shows that the actor is trying to make a name for himself as an actor and not just a handsome face.

Contact Josh Glick at [email protected].