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Role Call: Hollywood’s Weekly Casting News

[IMG:L]Winslet Picks Up the Slack
Looks like actress Kate Winslet is stepping into the role just vacated by the newly pregnant Nicole Kidman. Based on German author Bernhard Schlink’s 1995 bestseller, which Oprah Winfrey also picked for her book club, The Reader involves a woman (Winslet) who carries on a love affair with a 15-year-old boy in post-WWII Germany. Years later he learns she is a defendant in a Holocaust war crimes trial. The movie adaptation is to be directed by Stephen Daldry, who directed Kidman on her way to an Oscar- winning performance as author Virginia Woolf in The Hours. But now that Kidman, 40, announced she is expecting a baby with country music star husband Keith Urban, she’s going to take it easy. Winslet was originally offered the part but had to turn it down at the time because of a scheduling conflict. Funny how those things work out.

[IMG:R]Ah, to Be a Bond Girl
Ukrainian former model Olga Kurylenko (seen here in the recently released Hitman) has been tagged as the new Bond girl in the 22nd, yet-to-be-title Bond installment, which just started production. Also on board to help out in the female department will be relative newcomer Gemma Arterton, although her role is reported to be smaller than Kurylenko’s part. This can only mean Arterton will either be an ally of Bond who unfortunately gets killed early on OR she’ll be the femme fatale/sidekick to the villain, played this time by Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). As for the plot, a recent press release has producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions saying, “We are fortunate to continue in the Bond tradition of attracting the finest international actors for our starring roles. Mathieu in the role of Dominic Greene, a leading member of the villainous organization introduced in Casino Royale, will be a powerful counterpart to Daniel’s portrayal of Bond. Olga Kurylenko will play the dangerously alluring Camille, who challenges Bond and helps him come to terms with the emotional consequences of Vesper’s betrayal.” Well done. Judi Dench will also make an appearance as Bond’s boss M, as will Jeffrey Wright as CIA agent Felix Leiter. The movie is supposed to hit theaters in November. Can’t wait!

[IMG:L]Biel Attempts to Do Noel Coward
Jessica Biel has been cast as the lead in Easy Virtue, a romantic comedy based on the Noel Coward play. Biel plays an American divorcee who travels to the South of France and marries a young wealthy Englishman (Ben Barnes) on the spur of the moment. They return to England to face his disapproving family. Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas will play his parents. Australian filmmaker Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert) is directing. Alfred Hitchcock was the first to bring Coward’s 1924 three-act play to the big screen in 1928 as a silent movie. His film changed the storyline considerably, and it was a challenge adapting Coward’s dialog to the inter-titles. I bet it was. I’m sure the Biel movie will go over a lot better.

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[IMG:R]My New Favorite Obsession
Ever since seeing Juno, a sardonic yet ultimately heartening tale of teen pregnancy, I’ve been mildly obsessed with its writer, Diablo Cody–the former stripper who took herself off the pole and showed the world her true talent. I covet her dialogue techniques because in this day and age, it’s really hard to find something fresh, especially around a subject matter (teen pregnancy) that’s more suited for the Oxygen Network. Now, we’ve got a new one from Cody, Jennifer’s Body, a quirky comedic thriller about a cheerleader (TransformersMegan Fox) whose perfect life goes haywire when she becomes possessed and begins killing the young men in town who lust after her, helmed by Girlfight’s director Karyn Kusama. The plot is familiar but I’m positive Cody will infuse life into it.

[IMG:L]Ulrich Arms Himself; Tisdale Goes Upstairs
Jericho star Skeet Ulrich is returning to the big screen in the heist thriller Armored. He’ll play a scruffy (Hollywood Reporter’s term, not mine; but it works with ole Skeet) member of an armored truck company team who plans to empty a truck of its $10 million. Oh, why not? The cast also includes Matt Dillon, Columbus Short, Laurence FishburneJean Reno and Fred Ward. Meanwhile, High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale will make her feature film debut in They Came From Upstairs, an adventure comedy about a group of teens who defend their Maine vacation home against aliens. Tisdale–best known to tweeners everywhere as Musical’s rich-girl Sharpay Evans–will shoot Upstairs before moving on to the third installment of High School Musical, which will mark the first theatrical release in the series. Somewhere an 11-year-old girl is screaming her head off.

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