Actor Ryan Gosling has been thoroughly schooled in the making of low budget indies, having taken the lead in films like Half-Nelson as well as Lars and the Real Girl, plus playing both stoic protagonists of Nicolas Winding Refn’s two most recent features, Drive and Only God Forgives. With that in mind, perhaps it’s unsurprising that Gosling should choose to strike out as a director himself with his feature debut, How to Catch a Monster. The film sold to worldwide distributors at Cannes, and stars Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn.
Based on the synopsis, it sounds like How to Catch a Monster will follow two largely divergent story arcs: that of single mother Billy’s (Christina Hendricks) exploration of a dark fantasy underworld, and that of Billy’s son as he discovers an underwater town. The genre is describes as “fantasy-noir” and a “modern day fairytale,” though its unclear whether the fantasy elements will play a heavy role in the plot, or whether they will simply ensue naturally from the surreal settings.
Variety now reports that the search for a male lead has ended, as The Fades star Iain De Caestecker has officially signed on to play Bones, the teenaged son of Christina Hendricks’ character. De Caestecker has been circling the role for some time now, but couldn’t agree to it until he was certain of the scheduling for his other major commitment.
That commitment is the Marvel TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for ABC, in which De Caestecker will play a weapons and tech specialist called Agent Leo Fitz, who is partnered in a sibling-like relationship with Elizabeth Henstridge’s Agent Jenna Simmons (together, the pair are called ‘Fitz-Simmons’). Since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins shooting sometime in July, Gosling and De Caestecker presumably have a few weeks in which to get the young actor’s scenes in the can.
It’s a little unusual to lock in the male lead this late, since How to Catch a Monster began principal photography over a month ago - MSN Movies posted set photos of cast member Matt Smith sporting a shaved head and a slightly eclectic clothing style back in mid-May, so the shooting schedule so far must have presumably been focused on scenes without the film’s main lead. De Caestecker, who delivered an admirable performance in The Fades and was recently nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor, definitely has enough talent to carry a film like this as the male lead, but will Ryan Gosling’s acting prowess cross over into a skill for directing?
How to Catch a Monster doesn’t have a US release date yet, but we’ll keep you updated on the film’s progress.