Alfonso Cuarón’s space-set thriller Gravity may have started out a mere blip on the radar of upcoming movie projects, but as soon as Robert Downey Jr. became attached, more and more people started taking notice.

The thriller revolves around a group of U.S. astronauts – led by a medical engineer and “a talkative ‘mile-a-minute’ veteran” – who are on a mission to fix the Hubble telescope. Events take a turn for the dangerous when several Russian satellites begin to implode and force the U.S. team to race back to Earth in order to survive the resulting avalanche of debris.

The last we heard, Downey Jr’s Iron Man 2 co-star, Scarlett Johansson, was attached to play the lead in Gravity. Apparently she only made a “verbal agreement” to star in the film but it was presumed she’d get the role. Not so fast! Heat Vision is reporting that Johannson isn’t a lock for the role and in fact she’s vying with another actress, Blake Lively, to get it.

The role of the female medical engineer was originally supposed to be played by Angelina Jolie but when it moved from Universal to Warner Bros., Jolie bailed on the project, supposedly because the studio didn’t want to pay her a hefty $20 million paycheck (I guess Columbia Pictures didn’t mind paying her that for Salt…).

Along with Johansson and Lively, Inception star Marion Cotillard has also tested for the role. However, apparently Johansson and Lively are the two likeliest candidates at this point. Both actresses certainly have strong things going for them:

Lively has become a favorite with WB, with the studio having cast her in both Green Lantern and Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort, The Town. On the other hand, Johansson has an established working relationship with Downey Jr. from Iron Man 2 – will the actor push for her to get the role because of that?

Scarlett Johansson in ‘Iron Man 2′ and Blake Lively in ‘Green Lantern’

Part of the plot of Gravity is that the female lead is a mother who hopes to reunite with her daughter once she gets back to earth. Since Johansson and Lively are both a lot younger than Jolie, it’s unclear if the mother-daughter aspect will be kept in the script. Director Alfonso Cuarón is currently working on the project with his brother Jonas.

The decision on which actress will land the role is expected within the next week or two. As always, stay tuned to Screen Rant to find out simple smile Johansson and Lively Go Head To Head For Gravity Role .

Gravity will likely start shooting early next year, depending on the availability of the lead actress.

Source: Heat Vision