The Oscar-winning duo behind The Hurt Locker – director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal – began working on an action-thriller about SEAL Team Six’s search for Osama Bin Laden well before the notorious terrorist leader was found and killed earlier this year. Thereafter, naturally, the project was given a significant rewrite, so as to incorporate that event into Boal’s screenplay.

Joel Edgerton was previously reported to be all but locked as the male lead in Bigelow’s currently-untitled film – which was, at one point, referred to as Kill Bin Laden – but he will apparently not be involved after all. However, not only has another actor actually signed on for the project, several other well-respected and popular thespians are reportedly being courted to join the movie’s ensemble cast.

Deadline is reporting that the first actor set for Bigelow’s new film is Jason Clarke, whose resume includes appearance in films like Death Race, Public Enemies, and Texas Killing Fields – along with TV shows such as Farscape, Brotherhood, and The Chicago Code. He is also appearing alongside Edgerton in Baz Luhrmann’s in-production adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Among the other significant names being eyed for this new Bigelow military project are:

  • Tom Hardy, who co-headlined this fall’s acclaimed sports drama, Warrior, with Edgerton, and (of course) is playing Bane in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. That’s not to mention, his previous lauded turn in Bronson and popular supporting part in Inception.
  • Idris Elba, who co-starred in Thor earlier this year, has been earning lots of praise recently for his work on the TV mini-series Luther, and appears next in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, followed by Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
  • Rooney Mara, who headlines this winter’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo adaptation from David Fincher and played a memorable supporting role in the director’s The Social Network.
  • Jennifer Ehle, who is perhaps still best known for her award-winning role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1995 TV mini-series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. In 2011 alone, she’s also played small parts in movie like The Adjustment Bureau, Contagion, and The Ides of March.
  • Nina Arianda, who’s had an excellent time in 2011, appearing in well-respected indie flicks like Win Win and Higher Ground, along with Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and (most recently) Tower Heist.

That’s all to say: Bigelow and Co. are aiming high, when it comes to signing on actors and actresses for their SEAL drama-thriller.

Films that dramatize or reflect contemporary military operations have (in recent times) tended to falter at the box office, regardless of their critical reception. Bigelow’s new film could easily outgross The Hurt Locker, especially if the cast includes fan-favorites like Hardy and Elba; it nonetheless isn’t positioned to become any sort of financial heavyweight, despite its having a “happy ending” now, following the capture and killing of Bin Laden.

Bigelow’s project also won’t hit theaters until after the 2012 U.S. presidential elections, so as to avoid accusations that it is being used to sway voters’ opinions (Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln biopic is doing likewise). Whether that move will ultimately benefit (or harm) the film’s financial prospects remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Bigelow’s film is now slated for theatrical release in the U.S. on December 19th, 2012.

We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Bigelow’s (for now) untitled Bin Laden flick as more information is released.

Source: Deadline