The latest roundup of casting news concerns a couple of all-too-familiar faces, a modern-day damsel in distress, and three high-profile projects that will be arriving over the next couple of years: the film adaptation of 21 Jump Street, Neil Blomkamp's sci-fi/allegory Elysium, and Taken 2.
Rob Riggle looks to become the latest addition to the cast of the popular late '80s TV show-turned-movie; Wiliam Fichtner is negotiating to join Blomkamp's followup to District 9; and Maggie Grace will reprise her role as Bryan Mill's (Liam Neeson) daughter in the Taken sequel.
Variety says Riggle (The Hangover) is all but set to play the villain in 21 Jump Street, which will star Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as undercover cops passing themselves off as high schoolers. Brie Larson will play Molly, a love interest for Tatum and girlfriend of a drug dealer named Eric. Riggle is said to be playing "the main villain" of the film - presumably, Eric's boss and head of a major drug ring.
Ice Cube is also set as the police chief in 21 Jump Street, which Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs) are directing from their own screenplay.
TV show adaptations in general don't have a stellar track record; however, the combination of an odd couple like Tatum and Hill, solid supporting talents like Riggle and Cube - who are both entertaining when given the right material - and Lord & Miller calling the shots, 21 Jump Street has the potential to be a fast and fun action-comedy.
Most of you are familiar with Fichtner as the bank manager with a shotgun in The Dark Knight, but he's also one of the more prolific character actors in Hollywood. Over the years he's delivered memorable supporting turns in movies like Heat, Contact, Armageddon, Black Hawk Down, Date Night, and most recently Drive Angry - not to mention his noteworthy appearances on television series like Prison Break and Entourage.
Variety has also confirmed that Fichtner looks to reunite with his Contact costar Jodie Foster for Elysium, Neil Blomkamp's new allegorical sci-fi venture. Issues pertaining to social class will reportedly play a pivotal role in the District 9 director's second feature-length effort, which also looks to star actor Sharlto Copley, Matt Damon, and Wagner Moura.
Elysium has assembled quite the rock-solid collection of thespians for its cast, and what little has been revealed about the film's social-political subject matter definitely sounds interesting. Blomkamp will be working with a much larger budget than he had for D9, so the visual F/X should only look all the more realistic in Elysium. I say all that to say: there's good reason to hope Blomkamp avoids the infamous sophomore slump that has hindered many a filmmaker in the past.
Life was generally unpleasant for Kim (Maggie Grace) in Taken. She traveled overseas for a fun trip to Europe and ended up being kidnapped and forced into the sex trade. Fortunately, her father - ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) - is such a good dad that he set out to track her down himself, beating up about half the continent's population with his bare fists in the process.
Deadline has learned that Grace is officially set to reprise her role as Kim in Taken 2, which finally locked down Neeson just a few weeks ago. Everyone knows it's the latter actor who is the key component needed for this sequel to be entertaining, but there's nothing wrong with Grace returning as well.
Luc Besson and his Taken co-writer Robert Mark Kamen collaborated again to script the sequel, which will be directed by Transporter 3 helmer Olivier Megaton. While Megaton's previous work doesn't bode so well for Taken 2 - which also won't be the sleeper hit that the original was - it doesn't guarantee that Bryan Mill's latest adventure won't be the high-octane thrill ride we're all hoping for.
21 Jump Street is scheduled to begin production later this month. It arrives in theaters on March 16th, 2012.
Elysium looks to begin filming this July and is scheduled for theatrical release on March 8th, 2013.
Taken 2 may begin shooting by the end of 2011, and will likely reach theaters by either late 2012 or early 2013.
Source: Variety (link 1) (link 2), Deadline