There have been numerous casting decisions made for some big movies in the past two weeks that deserve recognition:
First off, it was announced earlier this week that PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4: ON STRANGER TIDES has cast its villain. The man for the job - Ian McShane. The Pirates franchise has exceeded in picking out some decent villains in the past, but this might be the best one yet. McShane, like Geoffrey Rush and Bill Nighy is an older, revered actor, but I'd say he's even less of a marquee name, which makes the decision to cast him even more respectable. He is most well-known for playing the vicious, yet charismatic saloon operator, Al Swearengen, on HBO's "Deadwood". I feel someone working on pre-production for PIRATES 4 was just sitting around watching "Deadwood" dvds and thought "Let's try to get this guy!". "Deadwood" was fantastic for many reasons, but none of them more weighty than McShane's performance as Swearengen. In PIRATES 4: OST, he will be playing historical baddy Blackbeard, or Edward Teach. If he can bring even just a little of that Swearengen swagger to Blackbeard, it should make for a good performance, even though he'll (likely) be lacking his notoriously foul mouth. I wasn't so interested in seeing a fourth film, as I really didn't care for the 2nd or 3rd, but McShane's involvement has jump-started my interest.
This film is starting to come together nicely. Earlier this month it was announced that Penelope Cruz had been cast in some major role. I'm not a big fan of her's, but I can see her fitting in amongst the swashbucklers. There were also reports last year that Russell Brand might take on the role of Jack Sparrow's son. These reports have since died down and I hope they stay that way as Brand's charm has certainly worn off. There's a new director this time around too, Rob Marshall (CHICAGO, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA). There was certainly nothing wrong with Gore Verbinski's direction, but the series could use a breath of fresh air. According to Johnny Depp, Marshall has a new vision in which to take the series. What such a vision could be is a mystery at the moment, but it's good to know that we wont be getting the same-old same-old. If you're looking for potential plot points, you might want to take a gander at Tim Powers' book "On Stranger Tides" as PIRATES 4 seems to be borrowing quite liberally from it (both feature Blackbeard and a search for the Fountain of Youth). Apparently, Disney owns the rights to Powers' book, so they might be using it as a template of sorts. The film's release is slotted for May of 2011.
The second casting report of interest is that Mark Strong will be taking on the role of Sinestro in THE GREEN LANTERN. This film has been coming together nicely too. Martin Campbell (GOLDENEYE, CASINO ROYALE) is in the director's chair, Ryan Reynolds is the title character, Hal Jordan and Blake Lively - his love interest. It was reported last month that Peter Sarsgaard would be playing the film's primary antagonist, Hector Hammond, and his father would be portrayed by Tim Robbins. There was some subsequent concern that Sinestro had not been cast, him being Green Lantern's most well-known adversary. Early talk had Jackie Earl Haley as the only actor considered for the part, so Strong's casting was a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant surprise. Strong is much more suited for the role, just slap a little goatee thing on him and he is Sinestro. This guy is truly the go-to for villainy, he plays the antagonist in SUNSHINE, STARDUST, SHERLOCK HOLMES and in the upcoming KICK-ASS and ROBIN HOOD. THE GREEN LANTERN has a tentative release date of June 17, 2011.
The race to see who plays Captain America is also heating up. Marvel released the names of its early considerations at the end of the week and none of them are particularly exciting. On the list was a bevy of teen hearthrobs and WB/teenage drama stars. Most of them I didn't even recognize. I'm all for casting an "unknown", just make sure he's right for the role. I can't imagine any of these guys, many whom regularly portray teenagers, stepping into the lofty boots of Cap. Can any of them do period acting? Can any of them, who are such personifications of the age we live in, pretend that present day is alien to them. I would doubt it. John Krasinski was also on the list. I don't know why they would want to cast the before-picture of scrawny Steve Rogers. I'm not hating on Krasinski, I actually think he'd make a great Hank Pymm (Ant-Man), but he'd be an awful Cap. The only promising listed contender was Jensen Ackles of "Supernatural" fame. I wouldn't say he's my first choice, but he's the best potential option. Unfortunately though, Ackles couldn't screen test due to a scheduling conflict. I'm crossing my fingers hoping they're considering more actors than they divulged.
That's all for now, but I suspect casting is starting for both THE HOBBIT and the SPIDER-MAN reboot and news will be released in the coming months.