It looks like Blake Lively has decided on a vacation in Mexico over a trip to Oz. The Gossip Girl starlet was recently said to be circling Oz, the Great and Powerful and Oliver Stone’s Savages, but has now signed on for the latter. She’ll be joined by the likes of younger folk like Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson in the drug cartel drama.
That’s not the only big casting news for the latest from the Platoon/Wall Street filmmaker: Pulp Fiction duo John Travolta and Uma Thurman have both signed on for Stone’s adaptation as well.
Deadline has confirmed that Lively will play free-spirited O (a.k.a. Ophelia) – a character who makes up one-third of a love triangle with Kitsch and Johnson in Savages. The latter are playing the roles of former Navy SEAL Chon and Ben, respectively, a pair of successful pot growers who enter a dangerous game with a Mexican drug cartel – after it kidnaps O. and holds her ransom.
The cast also features more seasoned thespians like Benicio Del Toro as the brutal cartel enforcer Lado, and Salma Hayek as the Mexican cartel queen-pin Elena. Thurman is set to star as O’s mother, and Travolta will round out the acting crew by playing world-weary DEA agent Dennis – who also just happens to have two days left until retirement (kidding).
Original Savages author Don Winslow cowrote the script for Stone’s adaptation, in collaboration with Shane Salerno – a screenwriter whose credits include the 2000 Shaft movie with Samuel L. Jackson and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. Winslow’s source material is both a best-seller and generally well-regarded, so hopefully the cinematic version will turn out better than Salerno’s filmography might indicate at first glance (though, to be fair, the Shaft semi-remake isn’t terrible).
Stone’s last couple of films – the George Bush biopic W. and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – were given a moderate critical reception; similarly, neither one managed to catch fire at the box office. If there’s one constant criticism I’ve seen of the movies Stone has released over the past five years or so, it’s that they’re kind of tepid and don’t really leave much of an impression. Considering that we’re talking about the same guy who was responsible for JFK and Natural Born Killers, that’s all the more surprising.
Savages has an overall strong cast and timely subject matter, so maybe it’ll be a return to form of sorts for Stone. The film is slated to begin shooting this summer and is expected to hit theaters in 2012 – but feel free to let us know your own thoughts about the project in the meantime.