A little over two weeks ago, we reported that Scarlett Johansson had cornered a role in director Alfonso Cuaron's new sci-fi epic Gravity. The acclaimed actress was supposedly set to reunite with her Iron Man 2 co-star Robert Downey Jr. in the film that would focus on her stranded astronaut fighting to make her way back to Earth and her daughter. Apparently, the narrative fight isn't the only bout that Scarlett will face on the Warner Bros. production, because fellow blond bombshell Blake Lively is gunning for the role as well.
THR's Heat Vision reports that Lively, best known as the star of the hit teen series Gossip Girl, is now circling the coveted part. The word on the Burbank lot is that both it-girls have screen tested and that a decision is expected within the next week or two. Originally conceived as a vehicle for Angelina Jolie while set up at Universal Pictures, the project eventually found its way to Warner's, where executives were supposedly unwilling to cough up the actress' $20 million fee. That led to a search for a capable replacement and since Johansson, Oscar winner Marion Cotillard also tested for the the role.
This new development presents a formidable challenge for Johansson. Though no one doubts her chops, Warner Bros. has been very kind to Ms. Lively. The actress broke out on the company's Gossip Girl and starred in both its Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants films as well. After a praised turn as a young Robin Wright in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, she picked up roles in the studio's Ben Affleck-directed The Town (due this September) and DC Comics adaptation Green Lantern - a film that ensures her global exposure and a new level of success. Maintaining relationships with talent is one of the reasons that Warner's continues to prosper and the studio may want to further their connection to rising star Lively by putting her at the center of this gigantic production before she snatches up another film at a rival company.
On the other hand, Johansson has a working relationship of her own - with Gravity's secondary player but main box-office draw Robert Downey Jr. If professional relationships are as treasured as they seem to be over at the WB, then the studio may heed Downey's potential advice and keep Johansson on board (Downey Jr. and producing partner/wife Susan also have a production deal at the studio through their Team Downey shingle). Regardless, as Cuaron hasn't directed a feature film since 2006's unbelievable Children of Men, Gravity is about as anticipated as LeBron's controversial decision was, so this is a story to follow no matter how you feel about the actresses at the center of it.
The film is scheduled for a 2012 release and a start date (or period, rather) tentatively set for early next year, depending on the chosen actresses schedule.
Source: Heat Vision