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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Maguire Dances the Robot 
Newlywed Tobey Maguire is hanging up his Spidey suit to play a giant robot in Robotech, a 1980s Japanese cartoon series with giant robots known as mechas. Maguire is eyeing the lead role and will serve as a producer. A sprawling sci-fi epic, Robotech takes place at a time when Earth has developed giant robots from the technology on an alien spacecraft that crashed on a South Pacific isle. Mankind is forced to use the technology to fend off three successive waves of alien invasions. The first invasion concerns a battle with a race of giant warriors who seek to retrieve their flagship’s energy source known as “protoculture,” and the planet’s survival ends up in the hands of two young pilots. “We are very excited to bring Robotech to the big screen,” Maguire told Hollywood Reporter. “There is a rich mythology that will be a great foundation for a sophisticated, smart and entertaining film.” About robots. Right. Guess the success of Transformers has gone to everyone’s head.

[IMG:R]Smith Gains Seven Pounds; Fiennes Woos The Duchess 
Will Smith will is set to star in Seven Pounds, reuniting with his Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino. The story centers on a man who inadvertently falls in love while attempting to kill himself. That could be a little tricky. Meanwhile, Ralph Fiennes will star opposite Keira Knightley in The Duchess. The British period romance scheduled is based on Amanda Foreman’s historical biography Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and revolves around the lives and loves of an 18th century aristocrat. OK, it’s official: Knightley is now the go-to girl for any period piece. Not only has she done all the Pirates of the Caribbeans and the most recent Pride & Prejudice, but she’s starring in two upcoming period films as well: the highly touted Atonement, set in the 1930s, and Silk, set in 19th century France. She does look good in all those costumes.

[IMG:L]Reeves Relives The Day the Earth Stood Still
I suppose if they have to remake this 1951 Robert Wise-directed sci-fi classic, it might as well star Keanu Reeves. He’ll play The Day the Earth Stood Still‘s Klaatu–played in the original by Michael Rennie–a humanoid alien who arrives on Earth accompanied by an indestructible, heavily armed robot and a warning to world leaders that their continued aggression will lead to annihilation by species watching from afar. The role calls for little to no emotion, so it should be right up The Matrix star’s alley.

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[IMG:R]Speaking of Right Up Someone’s Alley… 
Oliver Stone plays to make another Vietnam war movie, this time recruiting Bruce Willis to star in Pinkville, a film revolving around the infamous My Lai massacre. Willis will play William R. Peers, the real-life Army general who investigated the murders of about 350-500 people–mostly women, children and the elderly–by U.S. soldiers. Step Up’s Channing Tatum will portray Hugh Thompson Jr., an Army helicopter pilot who helped stop the killing by flying between the attackers and the My Lai villagers, rescued survivors and later testified against the soldiers. Michael Pena is in talks to play Capt. Ernest Medina, the tough commanding officer of the troops responsible for the massacre who was charged in the crimes but ultimately found not guilty. In Oliver’s hands, this should be compelling stuff.

[IMG:L]Piven Is the Top Used-Car Salesman; Goodman Grabs His Axe
If Jeremy Piven can sell people as Entourage’s ambitious Hollywood agent Ari Gold, then portraying a used-car liquidator in The Goods: The Don Ready Story should be a piece of cake for the actor. Piven will play a character who’s hired to save a struggling car dealership during a Fourth of July weekend sale. Careful you don’t pigeon-hole yourself, Jeremy. Meanwhile, John Goodman is set to play Paul Bunyan in the computer-animated family adventure Bunyan & Babe, opposite comedian Eddie Griffin as Babe the Blue Ox. Goodman, who’s had monster success voicing characters in Disney/Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Cars, will play the legendary jumbo lumberjack in the film. His character works with two adventurous kids to rescue his sidekick Babe the Blue Ox from the evil clutches of a demented circus owner. Fun!

[IMG:R]The Rock Goes Up the Mountain
Dwayne Johnson is in talks to star in Witch Mountain, a modern re-imagining of Disney’s 1975 adventure movie Escape to Witch Mountain. The story follows a pair of siblings, endowed with paranormal powers, who go on the run from a diabolical group of men who wish to exploit their abilities. Johnson will play a Las Vegas cab driver who is in for the ride of his life when he picks up the duo. Aw, the Rock must just really like working with kids.

[IMG:L]A Little French Kiss
French actress Melanie Laurent and Justin Bartha are shooting the bilingual romantic comedy Shoe at Your FootBartha (National Treasure) will play Jack, an American who wins a vacation for two to Paris but gets dumped by his girlfriend (Jessica Pare) just before the trip. He decides to go by himself, only to find that his luggage has been swapped with the identical bag of French businesswoman Chloe (Laurent). As Jack is trapped inside his hotel with no money, clothes or French-language skills, Chloe falls in love with his belongings (including his shoes) and, feeling fate has brought them together, searches for him. I like the sound of this one.

[IMG:R]Judd Is Depressed…Again 
Ashley Judd has signed on to topline drama Helen, written and directed by Mostly Martha’s Sandra Nettelbeck. The film centers on a music professor and mother who suffers from a deep, debilitating depression. Her family tries to help her, but no one can relate to her pain other than a young female student who knows depression all too well. Now, Judd has come out to say she, too, has suffered from years of depression, so I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job in this movie. But I’m just thinking a comedy might more therapeutic?

Until next week…

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