Role Call: The new Alexander the Great

The race to Macedonia is in full swing–and it looks like director Oliver Stone is in the lead. He’ll be directing a feature film on Alexander the Great–you know, that wily young king of Macedonia who, at the tender age of 20, conquered most of the known world in 300 B.C. and then died at 33–and vows to have it in the theaters Christmas 2003. This would put the film way ahead of the competition, including HBO’s 10-part Alexander series, due to air in 2004, and Martin Scorsese‘s film for Initial Entertainment Group with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star.

This is what Hollywood does: All at once, producers collectively decide the time is right to make a movie about one topic and then run around frantically to get the first one made. They did it with virus movies (Outbreak won the race–or lost, depending on how you look at it) and journey to Mars movies (but both Mission to Mars and Red Planet failed). Now it’s Alexander the Great. True, it’s a compelling subject matter, promising many bloody battles and much gnashing of teeth. We’ll see if the talented, but crazy, Stone has what it takes to make the best one.

Stone is off to a good start, though, with his choice to play the young king–Aussie hunk-o-rama Heath Ledger. Hollywood is certainly clamoring onto the young actor’s bandwagon after he made a huge splash in last year’s sleeper hit A Knight’s Tale. With that wild hair and smoldering good looks, I could see Ledger playing Alexander, easily. Now, let’s see if he’s up for all that bisexuality the real Alex was so famous for.

Portman “Wore Black”

Young waif Natalie Portman, who will be reprising her role as Queen Amidala and get it on with the dashing Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode II–The Attack of the Clones (oh man, I cannot wait!), is attached to star in Bride Wore Black, a film currently in development at 20th Century Fox.

This romantic comedy centers on a young man who, while attending the wedding of an ex-girlfriend, finds out his hotel room is haunted by a beautiful ghost (Portman). Apparently, she was jilted at the altar long ago and is bitter about it, so she plans to ruin the wedding. That’s the synopsis The Hollywood Reporter gives us. Let me see if I can guess the next part: The guy, who desperately wants the wedding to go through so he can rid himself of the ex-girlfriend, tries to stop the ghost but ends up falling in love with her instead. Yep, that sounds about right. The film will most likely work if and only if they can find the right leading man. Good casting is always the key.

“Willard” returns

The question is: Do we really want the mean little guy who uses rats as a weapon to come back? My first and only answer would be a resounding NO. But who listens to me? New Line Cinema has decided to do a remake of the 1971 horror film Willard and has hired Crispin Glover (Charlie’s Angels), one of the weirdest actors to ever make it to the big screen, to play the title character. Granted, that’s the only somewhat interesting part to this really horrible idea. Glover seems born to play the part and will certainly add a level of, shall we say, insanity to the role.

Now, in the 1971 version, if we all care to remember the plotline, Bruce Davison played a nerd whose only friends were pet rats. When a careless co-worker killed one of them, Willard didn’t just get mad, he got even–by using the rats. They bit, gnawed and then, of course, killed Willard’s enemies. Right. Can’t wait to experience that little bit of joy all over again.

Cusack needs some “I.D.”

John Cusack tends to pick interesting projects–and his next film seems to follow suit. He’ll star with Amanda Peet (Saving Silverman) and Ray Liotta (Hannibal) in the psychological thriller I.D. for Columbia Pictures. Here’s the premise: A group of 10 strangers find themselves in the desert, running from a terrible sandstorm. How or why remains to be seen, but somehow they all end up in a roadside hotel to ride out the storm. The hotel apparently makes the Bates Motel seem like the Biltmore because no sooner do they get there than one by one, they start to get bumped off. Now the survivors have to figure out who the killer is while also trying to stay alive. Agatha Christie meets Alfred Hitchcock, ladies and gentlemen. Done right, this could be a lot of fun.

Cusack also just completed another eerie-sounding film,Max, where he plays a prominent art gallery owner named Max Rothman who meets a young Adolf Hitler and tries to steer him into the world of art as an painter. I don’t think it works out to Max’s advantage in the end, do you?

Connery joins “Gentlemen” club

Sean Connery will star in 20th Century Fox’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which starts production this summer. Labeled a period piece X-Men, the film is based on the Victorian era-set comic book by Alan Moore. Queen Victoria calls upon several literary protagonists, including Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, Allan Quartermain and Mina Harker, to help fight against an evil madman. Well, you can’t say that isn’t an original idea. Where do they get these comic books? Connery will play Quartermain, a character created by British novelist H. Rider Haggard, who was an adventurer, a precursor of sorts to Indiana Jones.