We heard rumbling a few weeks back that Ryan Gosling was in talks to star in George Clooney’s next directorial project, a film adaptation of the acclaimed off-Broadway play, Farragut North.

Gosling has officially joined the cast of Clooney’s new movie, which has been retitled The Ides of March and will feature a stellar cast that include Clooney himself, along with Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti, Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood (who demonstrated she can be an engaging actress in the Mickey Rourke comeback vehicle, The Wrestler).

Clooney wrote the Ides of March screenplay in collaboration with his Good Night, and Good Luck co-scriber Grant Heslov and the original Farragut North playwright, Beau Willimon. Leonardo DiCaprio – who was at one point expected to star in Clooney’s adaptation – will co-finance the project through his Appian Way Productions, alongside Exclusive Media Group, Cross Creek Pictures, as well as Clooney and Heslov’s Smoke House Pictures.

The Ides of March will revolve around a young, hotshot press spokesman (Gosling) who gets tangled in a web of corruption while working for a politician (Clooney) who is competing in the Iowa Democratic caucuses. Star Trek‘s Chris Pine played the lead character in Willimon’s original play (see below) and was in talks to join Clooney’s film adaptation, but ended up taking a pass.

Willimon’s experience working on Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign inspired him to write Farragut North, which examines the unscrupulous activities, lies, and backstabbings that go on behind the scenes of a political campaign. That type of material should be a good fit for Clooney, who seems to excel at directing dramatic and darkly satirical pieces, but no so much with broad humor (his screwball comedy, Leatherheads, was kind of flat).

Giamatti will play the campaign manager for Clooney’s rival in The Ides of March, while Tomei and Wood occupy the roles of a New York Times reporter and a teenage intern who has an affair with Gosling’s character, respectively. All three should provide solid support for the leads in the film, which is already shaping up to be an awards contender.

The Ides of March begins filming in February of next year and will likely be released in theaters by late 2011.

Source: Variety